New Approaches in Detection and Treatment of Familial Hypercholesterolemia.

Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that clinically leads to increased low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. As a consequence, FH patients are at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Mutations are found in genes coding for the LDLR, apoB, and PCSK9, although FH cannot be ruled out in the absence of a mutation in one of these genes. It is pivotal to diagnose FH at an early age, since lipid lowering results in a decreased risk of cardiovascular complications especially if initiated early, but unfortunately FH is largely underdiagnosed. While a number of clinical criteria are available, identification of a pathogenic mutation in any of the three aforementioned genes is seen by many as a way to establish a definitive diagnosis of FH. It should be remembered that clinical treatment is based on LDL-C levels and not solely on presence or absence of genetic mutations as LDL-C is what drives risk. Traditionally, mutation detection has been done by means of dideoxy sequencing. However, novel molecular testing methods are gradually being introduced. These next generation sequencing-based methods are likely to be applied on broader scale once their efficacy and effect on cost are being established. Statins are the first-line therapy of choice for FH patients as they have been proven to reduce CVD risk across a range of conditions including hypercholesterolemia (though not specifically tested in FH). However, in a significant proportion of FH patients LDL-C goals are not met, despite the use of maximal statin doses and additional lipid-lowering therapies. This underlines the need for additional therapies, and inhibition of PCSK9 and CETP is among the most promising new therapeutic options. In this review, we aim to provide an overview of the latest information about the definition, diagnosis, screening, and current and novel therapies for FH.

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