Enzymatic Targets in Atherosclerosis

Elena V Fuior, Violeta G Tr


Atherosclerosis, a prime cause of mortality across the developed societies, was targeted by diverse therapeutic strategies. These evolved in response to the complex etiology and evolution of the disease. Many enzymes are associated with atherosclerosis, either in the main stream of lipid biosynthesis and transport or in the collateral and intertwined pathways of oxidative stress, inflammation, vascular remodeling or chromatin stability and are therefore revised herein. Enzyme exploration led to important developments. At the beginning, there were the statins, derived as inhibitors of hydroxy-methyl-glutaryl CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, currently used widely to decrease lipid levels. At the other end, the inhibitors of the recently discovered proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) are awaiting the validation in clinical trials with great hopes for the future. In between, one can find some palliatives, as aspirin, an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase (COX), but also many invalidated candidates. Classical pharmacological data and newer approaches, like genetic knockouts in murine atherosclerosis models, are reviewed in order to appreciate the involvement of a particular enzyme in atherogenesis. However, the pursuit of an efficacious drug has been long and, in many cases, disappointing. Conclusions can be drawn from the overview of both successes and failures, in a quest for the best.

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