Background: The mechanisms by which dyslipidemia and lipoatrophy develop during antiretroviral therapy are not clear. No treatment of lipoatrophy is currently established.
Methods: This was an open-label randomized study of HIV-positive individuals on a first-line therapy containing stavudine (d4T) with either a protease inhibitor (PI) or nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) and with hypercholesterolemia (defined as total cholesterol >5.2 mmol/L or >180 mg/dL) and/or lipoatrophy and with a viral load of <50 copies/mL. Patients switched d4T to abacavir (ABC) (group 1), a PI or NNRTI to ABC (group 2), or d4T and PI or NNRTI to ABC plus AZT (group 3). Patients were followed-up with fasting blood levels, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and computed tomography (CT) scans for 48 weeks.
Results: Thirty patients were included, with 27 completing 48 weeks of therapy. One ABC hypersensitivity reaction was the only serious adverse event. All patients' viral loads remained at <50 copies/mL. CD4 cell counts rose in groups 2 and 3 but fell modestly in group 1. Total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol improved significantly in groups 2 and 3. Triglycerides fell significantly in group 2. In contrast, total, arm, and leg fat mass (by DXA) rose significantly in group 1 but fell modestly in groups 2 and 3. Visceral adiposity (by CT scan) was unaffected in all groups.
Conclusions: Abacavir represents a virologically effective replacement for d4T, PI, or NNRTI in persons on successful first-line therapy. Replacement of a PI or NNRTI with ABC leads to modest improvement in both cholesterol and triglycerides. Replacement of d4T with ABC leads to modest improvements in fat mass.
(C) 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.