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Investigating the lowest threshold of vascular benefits from LDL cholesterol lowering with a PCSK9 mAb inhibitor (alirocumab) in healthy volunteers - a mechanistic physiological study (INTENSITY-LOW): protocol and study rationale.

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Kostapanos, Michael S 
Cacciottolo, Paul J 
Hubsch, Annette 
Hurlock, James 


Objective: Whether reducing low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is associated with cardiovascular benefits in low risk normocholesterolaemic subjects is unknown. The INTENSITY LOW [Investigating the lowest threshold of vascular benefits from LDL-cholesterol lowering with a PCSK9 mAb inhibitor (alirocumab) in healthy volunteers] study aims to assess whether lowering LDL-C by alirocumab monotherapy can improve endothelial-dependent vascular function compared with placebo (primary objective) in low-risk normocholesterolaemic healthy individuals. Changes in endothelial-dependent or endothelial-independent vascular function, arterial stiffness and biomarkers of systemic inflammation by alirocumab, atorvastatin or their combination are secondary objectives. Study design and methods: This is a single-center, randomized, two-period, single-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The study was registered on (N03273972). It will include 30 healthy low-risk subjects with LDL-C < 4.1 mmol/l. After passing the screening visit (Visit 1), eligible participants will be randomized 1:1 to either subcutaneous alirocumab 150 mg or placebo. These will be administered as single doses in 2 visits 14 days apart (Visits 2 and 3). Atorvastatin 20 mg once nightly will be prescribed for 14 days at Visit 3 in both groups through to Visit 4. At baseline (Visit 2) and during all post-dose visits (Visits 3-4), endothelial function will be assessed using venous occlusion plethysmography. Specifically, changes in forearm blood flow responses to intra-arterial infusions of acetylcholine, sodium nitroprusside and L-NG-monomethyl-arginine acetate will be assessed as surrogates of endothelial-dependent and -independent vasodilatation. Additionally, arterial stiffness and carotid intima-media thickness will be evaluated at the same timepoints. The above-mentioned changes will be correlated with changes in lipid and systemic inflammation biomarkers.



PCSK9 inhibitors, alirocumab, arterial stiffness, endothelial function, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, statin

Journal Title

J Drug Assess

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Informa UK Limited


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J P Moulton Charitable Foundation (unknown)
British Heart Foundation (None)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (NF-SI-0515-10093)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (Unknown)
Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT) (900199 14/19 B5)