Hepatitis C associated hypolipidemia has been demonstrated in studies from Europe and Africa. In two linked studies, we evaluated the relationship between hepatitis C infection and treatment with lipid levels in an American cohort and determined the frequency of clinically significant posttreatment hyperlipidemia. First, a case-control analysis of patients with and without hepatitis C was performed. The HCV Group consisted of 179 infected patients. The Uninfected Control Group consisted of 180 age-matched controls. Fasting cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), high density lipoprotein and triglycerides were compared. Next was a retrospective cohort study (Treated Hepatitis C Group) of 87 treated hepatitis C patients with lipid data before and after therapy was performed. In the case-control analysis, the HCV Group had significantly lower LDL and cholesterol than the Uninfected Control Group. In the retrospective cohort, patients in the Treated Hepatitis C Group who achieved viral clearance had increased LDL and cholesterol from baseline compared to patients without viral clearance. These results persisted when adjusted for age, sex, and genotype. 13% of patients with viral clearance had increased LDL and 33% experienced increases in cholesterol to levels warranting lipid lowering therapy. Conclusion: Hepatitis C is associated with decreased cholesterol and LDL levels. This hypolipidemia resolves with successful hepatitis C treatment but persists in nonresponders. A significant portion of successfully treated patients experience LDL and cholesterol rebound to levels associated with increased coronary disease risk. Lipids should be carefully monitored in persons receiving antiviral therapy.
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