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Melody Lok-Yi Chan, Sammy Wing-Ming Shiu, Ching-Lung Cheung, Anskar Yu-Hung Leung, and Kathryn Choon-Beng Tan

The inducible degrader of low-density lipoprotein receptor (IDOL) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in the post-transcriptional regulation of LDL receptor (LDLR). Statins lower plasma LDL by activating transcription of hepatic LDLR expression, and we have determined whether statins modulate IDOL expression and influence LDLR protein abundance. IDOL expression in monocytes and serum IDOL level was determined in statin-treated familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients and compared with control subjects. Serum IDOL level was also evaluated in a group of untreated FH patients before and after the initiation of statin. The mechanism underlying the inhibitory effect of statin on IDOL expression was investigated in vitro. In statin-treated FH patients, serum IDOL level and its expression in monocytes was reduced compared with control (P < 0.05). In contrast, untreated FH patients had higher serum levels of IDOL and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexintype 9 (PCSK9) than control (P < 0.05), and serum IDOL level decreased after statin therapy (P < 0.05) whereas an increase was observed in PCSK9 level (P < 0.01). In vitro, atorvastatin significantly decreased IDOL abundance in a dose-dependent manner in cultured macrophages and hepatocytes with a concomitant increase in LDLR expression. The transcription of IDOL was restored by adding either an LXR agonist T0901317 or oxysterol 22(R)-hydroxycholesterol, indicating that statin inhibited IDOL expression by reducing LXR activation. The LXR-IDOL-LDLR axis can be modulated by statins in vitro and in vivo. Statins inhibit IDOL expression by reducing LXR activation and upregulate LDLR, and statins exert the opposite effect on IDOL and PCSK9.