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Keywords:

  • cholesterol;
  • hypercholesterolaemia;
  • lipoprotein;
  • liver;
  • thyroid

Abstract

Background

Liver-selective thyromimetic agents could provide a new approach for treating dyslipidaemia.

Methods

We performed a multicentre, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of eprotirome, a liver-selective thyroid hormone receptor agonist, in 98 patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia. After previous drug wash-out and dietary run-in, patients received 100 or 200 μg day−1 eprotirome or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary end-point was change in serum LDL cholesterol; secondary end-points included changes in other lipid parameters and safety measures.

Results

Eprotirome treatment at 100 and 200 μg daily reduced serum LDL cholesterol levels by 23 ± 5% and 31 ± 4%, respectively, compared with 2 ± 6% for placebo (< 0.0001). Similar reductions were seen in non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein (apo) B, whereas serum levels of HDL cholesterol and apo A-I were unchanged. There were also considerable reductions in serum triglycerides and lipoprotein(a), in particular in patients with elevated levels at baseline. There was no evidence of adverse effects on heart or bone and no changes in serum thyrotropin or triiodothyronine, although the thyroxine level decreased. Low-grade increases in liver enzymes were evident in most patients.

Conclusion

In hypercholesterolaemic patients, the liver-selective thyromimetic eprotirome decreased serum levels of atherogenic lipoproteins without signs of extra-hepatic side effects. Selective stimulation of hepatic thyroid hormone receptors may be an attractive way to modulate lipid metabolism in hyperlipidaemia.