Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) (also called plasma lipid transfer protein) is a plasmaprotein that facilitates the transport of cholesteryl esters and triglycerides between the lipoproteins. It collects triglycerides from very low density or low density lipoproteins (VLDL or LDL) and exchanges them for cholesteryl esters from high density lipoproteins (and vice versa). Most of the time, however, CETP does a homoexchange- trading a triglyceride for a triglyceride or a cholesteryl ester for a cholesteryl ester.
The CETP gene is located on the sixteenth chromosome (16q21).
Role in disease
Rare mutations leading to increased function of CETP have been linked to accelerated atherosclerosis. In contrast, a polymorphism (I405V) of the CETP gene leading to lower serum levels has also been linked to exceptional longevity. However, this mutation also increases the prevalence of coronary heart disease in patients with hypertriglyceridemia. The D442G mutation, which lowers CETP levels and increases HDL levels also increases coronary heart disease.
As HDL has a protective function in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, and certain disease states (such as the metabolic syndrome) feature low HDL, pharmacological inhibition of CETP is being studied as a method to improve HDL levels. Specifically, the small molecular agent torcetrapib was shown to increase HDL levels (alone and with a statin) and lower LDL (when co-administered with a statin) in a 2004 study. Studies into cardiovascular endpoints, however, were largely disappointing; while they confirmed the change in lipid levels, most reported an increase in blood pressure, no change in atherosclerosis, and (in a trial of a combination of torcetrapib and atorvastatin) an increase in cardiovascular events and mortality.
A compound related to torcetrapib, going by the investigative name JTT-705/R1658, is undergoing studies. It increases HDL levels by 30% (as compared to 60% by torcetrapib).. Another CETP inhibitor under development is Merck's MK-0859 anacetrapib, which in initial studies has been shown not to increase blood pressure.
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^ Nissen SE, Tardif JC, Nicholls SJ, Revkin JH, Shear CL, Duggan WT, Ruzyllo W, Bachinsky WB, Lasala GP, Tuzcu EM; ILLUSTRATE Investigators (Mar 2007). "Effect of torcetrapib on the progression of coronary atherosclerosis". N Engl J Med356 (13): 1304-16. PMID 17387129.
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^ U.S. Food and Drug Administration (3 December 2006). "Pfizer Stops All Torcetrapib Clinical Trials in Interest of Patient Safety". Press release.
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^ Reuters. "Merck announces its investigational CETP-Inhibitor, MK-0859, produced positive effects on lipids with no observed blood pressure changes", Reuters, Inc., 4 October 2007. Retrieved on 2007-11-04.
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