Statins and PCSK9 inhibitors dramatically lower plasma LDL levels and dramatically increase LDL receptor number within hepatocyte cell membranes. It seems self-evident that total clearance of LDL particles from plasma and total delivery of cholesterol to the liver must increase in consequence. However, based on the results of stable isotope tracer studies, this analysis demonstrates the contrary to be the case. Statins do not change the production rate of LDL particles. Accordingly, at steady state, the clearance rate cannot change. Because LDL particles contain less cholesterol on statin therapy, the delivery of cholesterol to the liver must, therefore, be reduced. PCSK9 inhibitors reduce the production of LDL particles and this further reduces cholesterol delivery to the liver. With both agents, a larger fraction of a smaller pool is removed per unit time. These findings are inconsistent with the conventional model of cholesterol homeostasis within the liver, but are consistent with a new model of regulation, the multi-channel model, which postulates that different lipoprotein particles enter the hepatocyte by different routes and have different metabolic fates within the hepatocyte. The multi-channel model, but not the conventional model, may explain how statins and PCSK9 inhibitors can produce sustained increases in LDL receptor number.

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