Gene Variation May Be Linked to Protease Inhibitor-Induced Cholesterol Rise
Researchers have found a small genetic variation that may explain why some HIV-positive patients taking protease inhibitors experience a rise in cholesterol, while others do not, Reuters/JAMA reports. Scientists from the University of Basel in Switzerland and investigators from the Swiss HIV Cohort found a "single-nucleotide" variation on a gene that is "highly significantly negatively associated with an increase in cholesterol in patients receiving protease inhibitors" (Reuters/JAMA, 2/7). The gene, SREBP-1c, works in the "uptake of cholesterol by cells and the regulation of cholesterol concentration within cells," Reuters reports. Patients who had a "double dose" of the gene variation were at a lower risk for developing protease inhibitor-related cholesterol problems. All individuals have two copies of the SREBP-1c gene -- one from each parent. The genetic variation is evident in 50% of all genes, and about 70% of patients taking protease inhibitors develop hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol. Dr. Andre Miserez of the University of Basel in Switzerland suggested that testing patients for the variation prior to commencing treatment with protease inhibitors may identify patients who are more likely to develop cholesterol problems associated with the drugs (Reuters, 2/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.