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PCSK9 inhibitors safely and effectively lower LDL after heart transplantation: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Coronary allograft vasculopathy (CAV) continues to afflict a high number of heart transplant (HT) recipients, and elevated LDL is a key risk factor. Many patients cannot tolerate statin medications after HT; however, data for alternative agents remains scarce. To address this key evidence gap, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of the PCSK9i after HT through systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched Medline, Cochrane Central, and Scopus from the earliest date through July 15th, 2021. Citations were included if they were a report of PCSK9i use in adults after HT and reported an outcome of interest. Outcomes included change in LDL cholesterol from baseline, incidence of adverse events, and evidence of CAV. Changes from baseline and outcome incidences were pooled using contemporary random-effects model methodologies. A total of six studies including 97 patients were included. Over a mean follow-up of 13 months (range 3–21), PCSK9i use lowered LDL by 82.61 mg/dL (95% CI − 119.15 to − 46.07; I2 = 82%) from baseline. Serious adverse drug reactions were rarely reported, and none was attributable to the PCSK9i therapy. Four studies reported stable calcineurin inhibitor levels during PCSK9i initiation. One study reported outcomes in 33 patients with serial coronary angiography and intravascular ultrasound, and PCSK9i were associated with stable coronary plaque thickness and lumen area. One study reported on immunologic safety, showing no DSA development within 1 month of therapy. Preliminary data suggest that long-term PCSK9i therapy is safe, significantly lowers LDL, and may attenuate CAV after HT. Additional study on larger cohorts is warranted to confirm these findings.

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Correspondence to Douglas L. Jennings.

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Dr. Jennings is a speaker/consultant for Abiomed, Merck, Novartis, La Jolla, and AstraZeneca.

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Jennings, D.L., Sultan, L., Mingov, J. et al. PCSK9 inhibitors safely and effectively lower LDL after heart transplantation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Heart Fail Rev (2022).

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  • Alirocumab
  • Evolocumab
  • Heart transplant
  • Statin intolerance