PCSK9 enzyme molecule, illustration

PCSK9 enzyme molecule, illustration

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Credit: MAURIZIO DE ANGELIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: PCSK9 enzyme molecule. Computer illustration of a molecule of the enzyme proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9, blue). When there are high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or 'bad' cholesterol, in the blood it builds up on the sides of blood vessels hardening them, a condition named atherosclerosis. This narrows the blood vessels and may block them. LDL receptors recognise and bind to LDL molecules to remove them from the bloodstream. When PCSK9 binds to an LDLR, the receptor is destroyed along with the LDL particle. But if PCSK9 does not bind, the receptor can return to the surface of the cell and remove more cholesterol. PCSK9 inhibitors are used to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood by improving the liver's ability to recycle LDLRs.

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