Impact of antiretroviral therapy on serum lipoprotein levels and dyslipidemias: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background: Antiretroviral drugs increase biosynthesis and reduce hepatic clearance of serum cholesterol. It is thus important to evaluate the impact of antiretroviral treatment on serum lipoprotein levels and the risk of dyslipidemia.

Methods: We searched EMBASE and PubMed for articles comparing lipid profiles between HIV-infected adult patients naïve and exposed to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Eligible studies were pooled by performing random-effects meta-analyses of mean serum lipoprotein levels and prevalence estimates of dyslipidemias.

Results: 51 observational studies comprising 37,110 patients were included in the meta-analyses. ART-exposed patients had significantly higher concentrations of total cholesterol (45 studies, mean difference [MD]=29.4mg/dL, 95% confidence interval [CI] 26.5 to 32.4, I(2)=82.2%), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (37 studies, MD=14.9mg/dL, 95% CI 11.2 to 18.5, I(2)=86.1%), and triglycerides (43 studies, MD=46.8mg/dL, 95% CI 37.8 to 55.8, I(2)=97.1%), compared with ART-naïve patients. The risks of hypercholesterolemia (25 studies, pooled odds ratio [OR] 3.8, 95% CI 3.1 to 4.7, I(2)=60.0%) and hypertriglyceridemia (21 studies, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.7 to 2.9, I(2)=81.7%) were also significantly higher among ART-exposed patients, compared with ART-naïve patients.

Conclusion: Antiretroviral therapy is significantly associated with increase in serum lipid levels and increased risk of dyslipidemia. Whether or not these associations are causal should be investigated by future studies.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


International Journal of Cardiology