Hepatitis C virus infection and its clearance alter circulating lipids: Implications for long-term follow-up


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


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. (HEPATOLOGY 2009;50:1030–1037.)