Diabetologia. 2015 Sep;58(9):2051-5.

Bonnefond A, Yengo L, Le May C, Fumeron F, Marre M, Balkau B, Charpentier G, Franc S, Froguel P, Cariou B; DESIR study group.


Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a critical regulator of cholesterol homeostasis. PCSK9 inhibitors are being actively developed to lower LDL-cholesterol levels. However, there are conflicting data regarding the consequences of Pcsk9 deficiency on glucose homeostasis in mouse models. Here, we analysed in humans the association between the PCSK9 p.R46L loss-of-function (LOF) variant and (1) glucose homeostasis variables; (2) type 2 diabetes status; and (3) the risk of 9 year incident type 2 diabetes in a prospective study.

PCSK9 p.R46L was genotyped in 4630 French participants from the Data from an Epidemiological Study on the Insulin Resistance Syndrome (DESIR) prospective study and in 1342 French participants with type 2 diabetes. The association between p.R46L and metabolic traits or type 2 diabetes risk was assessed through linear or logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex and BMI. The association between p.R46L and incident type 2 diabetes was assessed using a Cox regression model adjusted for sex, age and BMI at baseline.

Significant associations (p<10-6) were found between p.R46L and lower total cholesterol (-0.394 mmol/l), LDL-cholesterol (-0.393 mmol/l) and apolipoprotein B concentrations (-0.099 g/l). However, no significant association was observed between p.R46L and markers of glucose homeostasis (including fasting glucose, fasting insulin, HbA1c, HOMA-B, HOMA-IR) or type 2 diabetes risk. Furthermore, no significant association between p.R46L variant and risk of incident type 2 diabetes was observed in DESIR.

The PCSK9 p.R46L LOF variant was not associated with impaired glucose homeostasis in humans. These data are reassuring regarding the safety of PCSK9 inhibitors.