Nutrition and the HIV-associated lipodystrophy syndrome

Nutr Res Rev. 2012 Dec;25(2):267-87. doi: 10.1017/S0954422411000138.


HIV-associated lipodystrophy syndrome (HALS), comprising metabolic and morphological alterations, is a known side effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Evidence for the role of nutrition in the management of the systemic parameters of HALS is currently limited. In the present paper we review the current knowledge base surrounding HALS, focusing particularly on the role of nutrition in mitigating the systemic parameters of the syndrome. Reported prevalence of HALS was found to vary from 9 to 83 % due to lack of a standardised definition, as well as variations in assessment methods and in the study population used. HALS is associated with both morphological (lipoatrophy, lipohypertrophy) and metabolic (dyslipidaemia, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis) alterations, which may occur singly or in combination, and are associated with an increased risk of CVD. HAART-induced adipocyte inflammation, oxidative stress and macrophage infiltration, as well as altered adipocyte function and mitochondrial toxicity, have been shown to be central to the development of HALS. The adipocyte, therefore, represents a plausible target for treatment. Pharmacological and surgical treatment interventions have shown effect. However, their use is associated with numerous adverse effects and complications. Targeted lifestyle interventions may provide a useful alternative for managing HALS owing to their safety and tolerability. A Mediterranean-style diet has been found to be effective in improving the systemic parameters of HALS. Furthermore, the effects of n-3 PUFA supplementation are encouraging and future randomised controlled trials investigating the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA in HALS are justified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Exercise
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / chemically induced
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / diet therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias
  • Inflammation
  • Life Style
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3