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.
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.
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%.
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)