Assessing the safety of lipid-modifying medications among Chinese adolescents: a drug-target Mendelian randomization study

Shan Luo, Hugh Simon Lam, Yap Hang Chan, Clara Sze Man Tang, Baoting He, Man Ki Kwok, Gabriel M. Leung, C. Mary Schooling, Shiu Lun Au Yeung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: With increasing hypercholesterolemia prevalence in East Asian adolescents, pharmacologic interventions (e.g., HMGCR inhibitors (statins) and PCSK9 inhibitors) may have to be considered although their longer-term safety in the general adolescent population is unclear. This study aims to investigate the longer-term safety of HMGCR inhibitors and PCSK9 inhibitors among East Asian adolescents using genetics. Methods: A drug-target Mendelian randomization study leveraging the Global Lipid Genetics Consortium (East Asian, n = 146,492) and individual-level data from Chinese participants in the Biobank clinical follow-up of Hong Kong’s “Children of 1997” birth cohort (n = 3443, aged ~ 17.6 years). Safety outcomes (n = 100) included anthropometric and hematological traits, renal, liver, lung function, and other nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics. Positive control outcomes were cholesterol markers from the “Children of 1997” birth cohort and coronary artery disease from Biobank Japan. Results: Genetic inhibition of HMGCR and PCSK9 were associated with reduction in cholesterol-related NMR metabolomics, e.g., apolipoprotein B (HMGCR: beta [95% CI], − 1.06 [− 1.52 to − 0.60]; PCSK9: − 0.93 [− 1.56 to − 0.31]) and had the expected effect on the positive control outcomes. After correcting for multiple comparisons (p-value < 0.006), genetic inhibition of HMGCR was associated with lower linoleic acid − 0.79 [− 1.25 to − 0.35]. Genetic inhibition of PCSK9 was not associated with the safety outcomes assessed. Conclusions: Statins and PCSK9 inhibitors in East Asian adolescents appeared to be safe based on the outcomes concerned. Larger studies were warranted to verify these findings. This study serves as a proof of principle study to inform the medication safety among adolescents via genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number410
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Drug-target Mendelian randomization
  • HMGCR inhibitors
  • PCSK9 inhibitors
  • Safety


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