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ARTICLE |

Lipoprotein Responses to Treatment With Lovastatin, Gemfibrozil, and Nicotinic Acid in Normolipidemic Patients With Hypoalphalipoproteinemia

Gloria Lena Vega, PhD; Scott M. Grundy, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(1):73-82. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420010101012.
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Background:  The lipoprotein responses to conventional lipid-modifying drugs have not been adequately evaluated in normolipidemic patients with hypoalphalipoproteinemia (low levels of high-density lipoproteins). The purpose of this study was to compare responses to lovastatin, gemfibrozil, and nicotinic acid in such patients.

Methods:  The first phase of the study compared lipoprotein responses to lovastatin and gemfibrozil in 61 middle-aged men with low levels of high-density lipoproteins. In the second phase, 37 patients agreed to take nicotinic acid; 27 patients finished this phase at a dose of 4.5 g/d. Nicotinic acid results were compared with those with lovastatin and gemfibrozil in the same patients.

Results:  In the first phase, both drugs effectively lowered triglyceride levels. Gemfibrozil therapy increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 10% and lovastatin by 6%, but lovastatin was much more effective for reducing low-density lipoprotein levels. Nicotinic acid did not significantly lower low-density lipoprotein levels in the second phase, but it raised high-density lipoprotein levels by 30%.

Conclusions:  Gemfibrozil therapy produced the least favorable response of the three drugs. Lovastatin markedly lowered low-density lipoprotein levels but only modestly raised levels of high-density lipoprotein, whereas nicotinic acid had the opposite effect. Consequently, the latter two drugs similarly reduced low-density lipoprotein— high-density lipoprotein ratios, although these effects were obtained in different ways. Between these two drugs, lovastatin therapy was more likely to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels to below 2.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dL), and in view of recent recommendations, it may be preferable to nicotinic acid for many normolipidemic patients with established coronary heart disease.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:73-82)

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