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Effects of Liver Transplantation on Lipids and Cardiovascular Disease in Children With Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia

      Homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) is a rare, inherited, life-threatening, metabolic disorder of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor function characterized by elevated serum LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) and rapidly progressive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD). Since LDL receptors are predominantly found on hepatocytes, orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) has emerged as a viable intervention for HoFH because LDL receptor activity is restored. This study assessed the effects of OLT on ACVD and ACVD risk factors in pediatric patients with HoFH. We analyzed lipids, lipoproteins, body mass index, glucose, blood pressure, and cardiovascular imaging in 8 pediatric patients who underwent OLT for HoFH. Total serum cholesterol, LDL-C, lipoprotein (a), and apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A1 ratio decreased to normal values in all subjects (p values <0.001) at 1 month after OLT and were maintained for the length of follow-up (2 to 6 years). There were few complications related to surgery or immunosuppressive therapy. Two patients developed mild hypertension. In the first 4 subjects monitored for 4 to 6 years after OLT, coronary artery disease did not develop or progress except in 1 minor artery in 1 subject and actually regressed in 2 subjects with >50% stenosis. However, aortic valve stenosis progressed in 2 of 4 subjects. In conclusion, OLT is an effective therapeutic option for patients with HoFH with coronary artery disease and persistently elevated serum LDL-C despite maximum medical therapy. Aortic valvular disease may progress. Long-term data are needed to evaluate the true risk-benefit ratio of this surgical approach.
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