, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 439-442

Ezetimibe: A novel cholesterol-lowering agent that highlights novel physiologic pathways

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Ezetimibe is a US Food and Drug Administration-approved novel drug that targets the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. The identification of this drug has also led to the elucidation of the dietary cholesterol receptor. Ezetimibe is efficacious as a plasma cholesterol-lowering agent as monotherapy, but its greatest utility seems to be as a combination with a low-dose statin, where it results in cholesterol lowering that is equivalent to using maximum-dose statins. It has a very favorable side-effect profile, as well as a lack of drug-drug interactions. In addition, it prevents the absorption of noncholesterol sterols, such as plant sterols. In clinical studies, it has been shown to be highly efficacious in lowering plant sterols in a rare genetic disorder, sitosterolemia. Both the disease, as well as this therapeutic agent, have led to the concept that ezetimibe may be also useful in dissecting the role of these noncholesterol sterols in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.