Background. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a crucial regulator of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) levels, as it binds to and degrades the LDL receptor (LDLR) in the lysosome of hepatocytes. Elevated levels of PCSK9 have been linked to an increased LDL-c plasma levels, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), making it an attractive target for therapeutic interventions. As a way to inhibit PCSK9 action, we searched for naturally derived small molecules which can block the binding of PCSK9 to the LDLR. Methods. In this study, we carried out in silico studies which consist of virtual screening using an optimized pharmacophore model and molecular docking studies using Pyrx 0.98. Effects of the candidate compounds were evaluated using in vitro PCSK9-LDLR binding assays kit. Results. Eleven natural compounds that bind to PCSK9 were virtually screened form HerbalDB database, including brazilin. Next, molecular docking studies using Pyrx 0.98 showed that brazilin had the highest binding affinity with PCSK9 at -9.0 (Kcal/mol), which was higher than that of the other ten compounds. Subsequent in vitro PCSK9-LDLR binding assays established that brazilin decreased the binding of PCSK9 to the EGF-A fragment of the LDLR in a dose-dependent manner, with an IC50 value of 2.19 μM. Conclusion. We have identified brazilin, which is derived from the Caesalpinia sappan herb, which can act as a small molecule inhibitor of PCSK9. Our findings suggest that screening for small molecules that can block the interaction between PCSK9 and the LDLR in silico and in vitro may be a promising approach for developing novel lipid-lowering therapy.
|Advances in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences
|Published - 2023