The goal of this study was to compare the effectiveness of fish oil, fenofibrate, gemfibrozil, and atorvastatin on reducing triglyceride (TG) levels among a large cohort of HIV-infected patients in clinical care.
Retrospective observational cohort study
The primary endpoint was absolute change in TG levels measured using the last TG value pre-treatment and the first TG value post-treatment. A pre-post quasi-experimental design was used to estimate the change in TG due to initiating fish oil. Linear regression models examined the comparative effectiveness of treatment with fish oil versus gemfibrozil, fenofibrate, or atorvastatin for TG reduction. Models were adjusted for baseline differences in age, sex, race, CD4+ cell count, diabetes, body mass index, protease inhibitor use, and time between TG measures.
A total of 493 patients (mean age 46 years; 95% male) were included (46 receiving gemfibrozil, 80 fenofibrate, 291 atorvastatin, 76 fish oil) with a mean baseline TG of 347 mg/dL. New use of fish oil decreased TG (ΔTG -45 mg/dL 95% Confidence interval (CI):-80 to -11) in the pre-post study. Compared with fish oil (reference), fibrates were more effective (ΔTG -66; 95% CI:-120 to -12) in reducing TG levels, whereas atorvastatin was not (ΔTG -39; 95% CI:-86 to 9).
In HIV-infected patients in routine clinical care, fish oil is less effective than fibrates (but not atorvastatin) at lowering triglyceride values. Fish oil may still represent an attractive alternative for patients with moderately elevated triglycerides particularly among patients who may not want or tolerate fibrates.