Cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors: from high-density lipoprotein cholesterol to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering agents?

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Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) is a liver-synthesized glycoprotein whose main functions are facilitating transfer of both cholesteryl esters from high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles to apolipoprotein B (apoB)-containing particles as well as transfer of triglycerides from apoB-containing particles to HDL particles. Novel crystallographic data have shown that CETP exchanges lipids in the circulation by a dual molecular mechanism. Recently, it has been suggested that the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) benefit from CETP inhibition is the consequence of the achieved low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and apoB reduction, rather than through the HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) increase. The use of CETP inhibitors is supported by genetic evidence from Mendelian randomization studies, showing that LDL-C lowering by CETP gene variants achieves equal ASCVD risk reduction as LDL-C lowering through gene proxies for statins, ezetimibe, and proprotein convertase subtilisin-kexin Type 9 inhibitors. Although first-generation CETP inhibitors (torcetrapib, dalcetrapib) were mainly raising HDL-C or had off-target effects, next generation CETP inhibitors (anacetrapib, evacetrapib) were also effective in reducing LDL-C and apoB and have been proven safe. Anacetrapib was the first CETP inhibitor to be proven effective in reducing ASCVD risk. In addition, CETP inhibitors have been shown to lower the risk of new-onset diabetes, improve glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity. The newest-generation CETP inhibitor obicetrapib, specifically designed to lower LDL-C and apoB, has achieved significant reductions of LDL-C up to 45%. Obicetrapib, about to enter phase III development, could become the first CETP inhibitor as add-on therapy for patients not reaching their guideline LDL-C targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2919-2931
Number of pages13
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • CETP
  • CETP inhibitor
  • HDL-C
  • LDL-C

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