AbstractBackground

Reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol due to inhibition of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9) reduces cardiovascular events and may therefore also reduce cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

Objectives

This study tested the hypothesis that genetically low LDL cholesterol due to PCSK9 variation is causally associated with low cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in the general population.

Methods

A total of 109,566 individuals from the Copenhagen General Population Study and the Copenhagen City Heart Study were genotyped for PCSK9 R46L (rs11591147), R237W (rs148195424), I474V (rs562556), and E670G (rs505151). During a median follow-up of 10 years (range 0 to 42 years) and 1,247,225 person-years, there were 3,828 cardiovascular deaths and 16,373 deaths from any cause. Results were validated using data on 431,043 individuals from the UK Biobank.

Results

An increasing number of weighted PCSK9 alleles were associated with stepwise lower LDL cholesterol of up to 0.61 mmol/l (24 mg/dl; 18.2%; p for trend <0.001) and with lower cardiovascular mortality (p = 0.001), but not with lower all-cause mortality (p = 0.11). In causal, genetic analyses, a 0.5-mmol/l (19.4-mg/dl) lower LDL cholesterol was associated with risk ratios for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality of 0.79 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63 to 0.99; p = 0.04) and 1.02 (95% CI: 0.94 to 1.12; p = 0.63) in the Copenhagen studies, 0.79 (95% CI: 0.58 to 1.08; p = 0.14) and 0.98 (95% CI: 0.87 to 1.10; p = 0.75) in the UK Biobank, and of 0.79 (95% CI: 0.65 to 0.95; p = 0.01) and 1.01 (95% CI: 0.94 to 1.08; p = 0.85), respectively, in studies combined.

Conclusions

Genetically low LDL cholesterol due to PCSK9 variation was causally associated with low risk of cardiovascular mortality, but not with low all-cause mortality in the general population.

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