Lipodystrophy: some comments from Nelson Vergel

Nelson Vergel, long-time AIDS treatment activist and community expert on lipodystrophy, recently posted a good set of guides to understanding this topic:

–D4T and AZT linked to lipoatrophy; some protease inhibitors linked to insulin resistance, which can be related to higher triglycerides and fat cell size in some patients

–exercise helpful for maintaining lean body mass; anabolic steroids for help in regaining normal weight

–supplements like omega-3/fish oil and niacin to help statins and fibrates to lower bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides and increasing good cholesterol (HDL)

Also included in the post are reviews of some regimen-switching strategies to counter lipodystrophy.

“Unfortunately,” Nelson concludes, more research is still needed on “lower glycemic index diets, good comparison data of what happens to visceral fat when different protease inhibitors or non-nucleosides are used with Truvada in naives with low and higher CD4 at baseline, diet/exercise combinations, and other supplements like carnitine and others.”

Read the full entry at thebody.com.

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The Lowdown on Lipodystrophy – Nelson Vergel on “HIV Lipodystrophy: Where Are We After 10 Years?”

We’d like to recommend this article, by long-time AIDS treatment activist Nelson Vergel, which appears in the July-Dec. 2007 issue of GMHC’s Treatment News

It’s available online at

http://www.gmhc.org/health/treatment/ti/ti21_3_4.html#3

Lipodystrophy has been one of the most discussed side effects of HIV medications in the past ten years, and, as this article points out, its potentially devastating psychological effects have added urgency to the search for scientific understanding about the condition, and treatment options to address it.

This excellent summary divides the discussion into three parts:

–lipoatrophy (fat loss in the face, buttocks, arms and legs)

–lipohypertrophy (fat accumulation in specific areas of the body such as the neck, belly, upper torso, and breasts)

–lipid abnormalities (high LDL [“bad”] cholesterol and triglycerides, low HDL [“good”] cholesterol)

Nelson outlines how Zerit and AZT were especially implicated in lipoatrophy; he also sorts through the ongoing uncertainties about the origins of lipohypertrophy and lipid abnormalities in people with HIV on HAART.

This article is also very useful in reviewing the treatment options for these three conditions, including facial wasting reconstruction therapies like Sculptra (formerly Newfill) for lipoatrophy; prescription drugs for lipohypertrophy (testosterone or Metformin*); nutritional supplements like fish oil and Niacin for lipid abnormalities (these are often most successful when used along with diet and exercise programs, and can enhance the effectiveness of prescription statins).

Nelson Vergel continues to do a great service in making this kind of treatment information available to PWHIV. For more info, you can also visit the website http://www.facialwasting.org, or subscribe to the pozhealth internet HIV health discussion group by sending a blank email to pozhealth-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

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*See additional posts on this Blog for a recommendation about supplementing with B vitamins when taking Metformin.

“HIV Lipodystrophy: Where are we after ten years?” – Nelson Vergel, in GMHC Treatment News, July-Dec. 2007

We’d like to recommend this article, by long-time AIDS treatment activist Nelson Vergel, which appears in the July-Dec. 2007 issue of GMHC’s Treatment News

It’s available online at

http://www.gmhc.org/health/treatment/ti/ti21_3_4.html#3

Lipodystrophy has been one of the most discussed side effects of HIV medications in the past ten years, and, as this article points out, its potentially devastating psychological effects have added urgency to the search for scientific understanding about the condition, and treatment options to address it.

This excellent summary divides the discussion into three parts:

–lipoatrophy (fat loss in the face, buttocks, arms and legs)

–lipohypertrophy (fat accumulation in specific areas of the body such as the neck, belly, upper torso, and breasts)

–lipid abnormalities (high LDL [“bad”] cholesterol and triglycerides, low HDL [“good”] cholesterol)

Nelson outlines how Zerit and AZT were especially implicated in lipoatrophy; he also sorts through the ongoing uncertainties about the origins of lipohypertrophy and lipid abnormalities in people with HIV on HAART.

This article is also very useful in reviewing the treatment options for these three conditions, including facial wasting reconstruction therapies like Sculptra (formerly Newfill) for lipoatrophy; prescription drugs for lipohypertrophy (testosterone or Metformin*); nutritional supplements like fish oil and Niacin for lipid abnormalities (these are often most successful when used along with diet and exercise programs, and can enhance the effectiveness of prescription statins).

Nelson Vergel continues to do a great service in making this kind of treatment information available to PWHIV. For more info, you can also visit the website http://www.facialwasting.org, or subscribe to the pozhealth internet HIV health discussion group by sending a blank email to pozhealth-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

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*See the recent post on this Blog for a recommendation about supplementing with B vitamins when taking Metformin.

Nutritional Management of Lipodystrophy: A Simple Fact Sheet from ATDN

The people at the AIDS Treatment Data Network (ATDN) have developed a series of “Simple Fact Sheets” about treatment and management of HIV. Their fact sheet on “Nutritional Management of Lipodystrophy,” written by an HIV nutritionist at Cabrini Medical Center in New York, covers diet (the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, the right kinds of fats), exercise, and supplements, beginning with a good multivitamin, preferably one that includes a good set of antioxidants. There’s also a description of some supplements that may be useful in reducing lipodystrophy: L-carnitine, NAC, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, B-complex vitamins (niacin may be key among the B vitamins, but the recommendation is to always supplement using a B-complex, since the different B vitamins support one another’s action), and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil and/or flaxseed).

 To read the entire fact sheet, go to

http://www.atdn.org/simple/nutrlip.html

Fish oil, inflammation and metabolic complications in HIV: a clinical trial and related research

We noticed with interest that Dr. Todd T Brown, a Johns Hopkins researcher who has studied body fat changes in people with HIV, has recently started a wide-ranging investigation of fish oil / omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as a way of preventing/treating metabolic complications associated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Metabolic complications, including fat wasting, central body fat build-up, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and bone loss, have been some of the major side effects experienced by people with HIV on medication, so it’s quite interesting to see research that may “connect the dots” and find links between these various problems. 

Furthermore, this is a study that focuses on fish oil / omega-3 fatty acids, which have quite recently gained more respect in US medical circles, especially as a means of preventing/treating cardiovascular disease, but also for a surprising effect on depression. (You can read more about this aspect of fish oil supplementation in the “depression” category on this blog.)

 Here’s the description of Dr. Brown’s research, as provided on the website of NCCAM/NIH, one of the major sponsors of the study:

Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The overall goal of this proposal is to understand the role of inflammatory cytokines in the metabolic and skeletal abnormalities in HIV disease and to determine whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, in the form of fish oil, will alter the pathophysiology of these clinical disorders. Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are used widely among HIV-infected patients, often with the hope of preventing or treating complications associated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Metabolic abnormalities, including peripheral fat wasting, central adiposity, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia, and skeletal abnormalities (reduced bone mineral density and high bone turnover), are common in HIV-infected patients on HAART, yet their relationship is unclear. We hypothesize that these metabolic and skeletal abnormalities are related by abnormal inflammatory cytokine expression and that these conditions can be improved with fish oil, a widely-used CAM agent with anti-inflammatory properties. We have the following specific aims: 1) To understand the association between the metabolic and skeletal abnormalities in HIV-infected subjects and their relationship to inflammation, 2) To determine whether treatment with omega-3 fatty acids will have hypotriglyeridemic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bone resorptive effects in a randomized trial of HIV-infected patients, and 3) To clarify the mechanisms of action of omega-3 fatty acids, namely the effect on lipolysis and bone turnover using stable isotope infusion techniques. To accomplish our specific aims, I intend to do a secondary analysis of data from two cohorts of HIV-infected subjects, and to then perform a randomized trial using a standardized fish oil product. These results will help to define the pathophysiology of the metabolic and skeletal abnormalities in HIV and evaluate the efficacy and potential mechanisms of action of an important complementary treatment […]

(According to the published information, the clinical trial of fish oil is scheduled to run from 2006-2010.)

Note: An interview with Dr. Brown on body fat changes in people with HIV can be found on the website of our friends at www.thebody.com.