Higher Serum Cholesterol Levels Are Associated With Reduced Systemic Inflammation and Mortality During Tuberculosis Treatment Independent of Body Mass Index

Front Cardiovasc Med. 2021 Jun 22;8:696517. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2021.696517. eCollection 2021.


Background: Lipids play a central role in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis (TB). The effect of serum lipid levels on TB treatment (ATT) outcomes and their association with serum inflammatory markers have not yet been characterized. Methods: Our retrospective cohort study on drug-susceptible TB patients, at the National Taiwan University Hospital, assessed the association of baseline serum lipid levels such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol (TC) and triglycerides (TG) with all-cause and infection-related mortality during first 9 months of ATT and baseline inflammatory markers namely C-reactive protein (CRP), total leukocyte count (WBC), and neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NL ratio). Results: Among 514 patients, 129 (26.6%) died due to any-cause and 72 (14.0%) died of infection. Multivariable Cox-regression showed a lower adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of all-cause mortality in the 3rd tertiles of HDL (aHR 0.17, 95% CI 0.07-0.44) and TC (aHR 0.30, 95% CI 0.14-0.65), and lower infection-related mortality in the 3rd tertile of HDL (aHR 0.30, 95% CI 0.14-0.65) and TC (aHR 0.30, 95% CI 0.14-0.65) compared to the 1st tertile. The 3rd tertiles of LDL and TG showed no association in multivariable analysis. Similarly, 3rd tertiles of HDL and TC had lower levels of baseline inflammatory markers such as CRP, WBC, and NL ratio using linear regression analysis. Body mass index (BMI) did not show evidence of confounding or effect modification. Conclusions: Higher baseline serum cholesterol levels were associated with lower hazards of all-cause and infection-related mortality and lower levels of inflammatory markers in TB patients. BMI did not modify or confound this association.

Keywords: BMI; HDL-cholesterol; LDL-cholesterol; effect modification; inflammation.