Background: Conflicting reports on the effects of efavirenz (EFV) and lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) on subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) have been described.
Objective: The aim was to assess the 48-week molecular and clinical effects of LPV/r and EFV, combined with tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC), on SAT of HIV-infected, antiretroviral-naive patients.
Methods: Forty-four adults were started on LPV/r or EFV combined with TDF/FTC. Fasting metabolic tests, HIV RNA, CD4 cell count, and fat measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry scans were obtained at study entry and week 48. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and transcripts for mtDNA-encoded proteins and genes involved in inflammation, adipocyte differentiation, and metabolism were assessed in paired SAT biopsies.
Results: Whole-body fat and limb fat mass increased in the LPV/r and EFV groups. MtDNA and cytochrome oxidase subunit II did not change, and cytochrome b increased significantly in EFV-treated patients. Tumor necrosis factor alpha and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 gene expression did not change in the LPV/r group, but these significantly increased in the EFV group. Interleukin 18 decreased in the LPV/r group, whereas it increased in the EFV group.
Conclusions: Starting TDF/FTC plus EFV was associated with an increased expression of genes encoding for inflammatory cytokines in SAT in naive patients. Therapy with TDF/FTC plus LPV/r or EFV was associated with an increase in subcutaneous fat mass.