Lipoprotein apheresis: state of the art and novelties

C Stefanutti, U Julius
Atherosclerosis. Supplements 2013, 14 (1): 19-27
Lipoprotein apheresis (LA) is an extracorporeal technique which permits the unselective or specific removal of lipoproteins, namely Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL), as well as other apolipoprotein B100-containing lipoproteins from plasma. LA represents a selective upgrade (with both clinical and metabolic advantages) from conventional forms of extracorporeal therapy such as plasma-exchange (PEX) which was used in the seventies to treat severe hypercholesterolemia. The primary reason for using is the treatment of homo-, double- (or compound) and heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (Hoz-, DHtz,- Htz,-FH). This technique has also been shown to be efficacious in the treatment of other severe forms of hyperlipoproteinemia such as: hyperLp(a)lipoproteinemia, the familial combined hyperlipoproteinemia and other varieties associated with an elevated cardiovascular risk (CVR) when used in patients who are poor- or non-responders to pharmacological treatment following specific guidelines for the reduction of cholesterol in plasma. Patients with these severe forms of dyslipidemia and, particularly, those affected by FH are subject to coronary ischemic events and thus require an intensive, efficacious, continuous, and personalized form of therapy. A therapy based solely on current available drugs does not achieve the desired results in the Hoz- and DHtz forms of FH or in approximately 10-20% of the Htz form. For the aforementioned clinical conditions, LA treatment offers a necessary therapeutic approach. LA can also be applied in the prevention of secondary recurrence of coronary ischemic events and of arterial stenosis which appears, rather frequently after vascular surgery (coronary by-pass, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty). Clinical trials have shown that statins provide a major reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but often fail to attain desirable LDL-cholesterol target level in Hoz- and DHtz- (Compound) FH high cardiovascular risk patients. Intolerance to statins is also relatively frequent in Htz-FH and non-FH patients. LA has effectively replaced pharmacological cholesterol-lowering therapy for decades. Young high CVR risk patients survived to adulthood thanks only to LA. More recently, promising novel compounds aimed at other molecular targets are being studied for the treatment of severe dyslipidemia: Lomitapide, Mipomersen, PCSK9 inhibitors and HDL-enhancers. It is expected that these potent new agents will be combined with LA in the treatment of the most severe forms of hyperlipidemia.

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