Hypertriglyceridemia and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (HDL-C) may contribute to a presumed accelerated risk for cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected individuals.

We evaluated the effect of omega-3 fatty acid treatment on triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-C, HDL-C, and HDL subpopulations. Forty-one HIV-seropositive subjects with hypertriglyceridemia (≥150 mg/dl) on active antiretroviral therapy were enrolled in this placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized, crossover trial comparing the effects of omega-3 fatty acid treatment (1.9 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA) on triglycerides, LDL-C, HDL-C, and HDL subpopulations. An independent sample t-test was used to assess the study start to posttreatment change for all components.

After omega-3 fatty acid treatment, triglyceride levels decreased 63.2±86.9 mg/dl (p<0.001). No significant changes in total cholesterol, LDL-C, or HDL-C were found. Within HDL subpopulations, significant changes were seen in the most atheroprotective HDL particles, α-1, which increased by 2.5±5.6 mg/dl (p<0.05), and preα-1, which increased by 0.6±1.0 mg/dl (p<0.001). Preα-3, a presumably atherogenic HDL particle, decreased by 0.5±0.9 mg/dl (p<0.01).

Omega-3 fatty acid treatment significantly lowered triglyceride levels in HIV-positive patients with moderate hypertriglyceridemia. While no study-wide improvements in LDL-C or HDL-C were detected, the HDL subpopulation profile changed in a beneficial way suggesting more cardioprotection after treatment.