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Randomized crossover study of gemfibrozil versus lovastatin in familial combined hyperlipidemia: additive effects of combination treatment on lipid regulation.

Author(s): Zambon D, Ros E, Rodriguez-Villar C, Laguna JC, Vazquez M, Sanllehy C, Casals E, Sol JM, Hernandez G

Affiliation(s): Nutrition and Dietetics Service, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, Barcelona, Spain.

Publication date & source: 1999-01, Metabolism., 48(1):47-54.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

The most appropriate therapy for combined hyperlipidemia remains to be determined. We compared the lipid-regulating effects of gemfibrozil and lovastatin in 30 patients with familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study including 8-week courses of one drug followed by a washout period and a crossover phase to the alternate drug. After completion of the trial, open-label combination therapy was given for up to 12 months. Lovastatin was more efficacious than gemfibrozil in the reduction of total cholesterol (23% v. 9%, P<.001) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (28% v. 2%, P<.001), whereas gemfibrozil surpassed lovastatin in the reduction of triglycerides (48% v. 0%, P<.001) and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol (50% v. 19%, P = .005) and the increase of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (18% v. 4%, P = .005). Lovastatin caused a greater decline in total apolipoprotein B (apo B) and LDL apo B than gemfibrozil, whereas VLDL apo B decreased only after gemfibrozil therapy. Drug-induced changes in lipoprotein composition indicated that gemfibrozil reduced both the number and size of VLDL particles and lovastatin decreased the number of LDL particles. Combined treatment was safe and had additive effects on lipids, causing significant (P<.001) reductions in total cholesterol (32%), triglycerides (51%), LDL cholesterol (34%), and apo B (26%) and an increase in HDL cholesterol (19%). Target LDL cholesterol levels were achieved only in 11% of patients given gemfibrozil alone and triglycerides decreased to target levels in 22% after lovastatin alone, whereas combined therapy normalized both lipid fractions in 96% of patients. Thus, in FCHL, gemfibrozil has no effect on LDL cholesterol levels but favorably influences the putative atherogenic alterations of lipoprotein composition that are related to hypertriglyceridemia. Conversely, lovastatin markedly decreases LDL cholesterol but has little effect on triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. Combination treatment safely corrects all of the lipid abnormalities in most patients.

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