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Changes in bone mineral density over a 2-year period in HIV-1-infected men under combined antiretroviral therapy with osteopenia

Assoumou, Lamberta,b; Katlama, Christinea,b,c; Viard, Jean-Pauld; Bentata, Michellee; Simon, Annef; Roux, Christiang; Kolta, Samig; Costagliola, Dominiquea,b; Rozenberg, Sylviehthe ANRS Osteovir study group

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32836378c3
Clinical Science: Concise Communication

Objective: Although osteopenia is common in HIV-infected patients, there is by now limited data on the evolution of bone mineral density in this population. We aimed to evaluate the course of osteopenia over a 2-year period in HIV-1-infected men, and to identify risk factors for abnormal bone mineral density (BMD) decline.

Methods: HIV-1-infected men on combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) screened in the ANRS 120 Fosivir trial, diagnosed with low BMD (−2.5 ≤T-score <−1), not receiving antiosteoporotic agents, with sequential dual-energy-X ray-absorptiometry (DXA) available at baseline were eligible for this study and had a second DXA performed between months 24 and 36.

Results: We enrolled 94 men with a median age of 46 years [interquartile range (IQR), 41–53], BMI 22 kg/m2 (21–25) and a CD4+ cell nadir of 164/μl (69–261). They were receiving cART for a median of 7.5 years (5.8–9.5). Over a median interval of 2.6 years (2.3–2.9) between the two DXA tests, the mean change in BMD was −0.5 ± 1.7% per year (P = 0.010) at the lumbar spine and −0.4 ± 1.8% per year (P = 0.033) at the hip. BMD fell by more than the smallest detectable difference (SDD) in, respectively, 25.5 and 27.7% of patients at the lumbar spine and hip. Tenofovir (TDF) exposure was independently associated with a larger decline in BMD at both sites [lumbar spine, OR = 2.4 (1.2–4.9); hip, OR = 2.8 (1.3–5.9)].

Conclusion: Although osteopenia overall modestly changes over 2 years in long-term cART-treated patients, a quarter of patients experienced a significant loss (>1 SDD) associated with TDF exposure.


bUPMC Univ Paris 06, UMRS 943

cAP-HP, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Service de Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales

dAP-HP, Centre de Diagnostic et de Thérapeutique, Hôtel-Dieu, Paris

eAP-HP, Hôpital Avicenne, Service de maladies infectieuses, Bobigny

fAP-HP, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Service de médecines internes

gRheumatology Department, Cochin Hospital, Paris-Descartes University

hAP-HP, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Service de Rhumatologie and UPMC Univ Paris 06, Paris, France.

Correspondence to Lambert Assoumou, INSERM U943, 56 Bd V Auriol, BP 335, 75625 Paris Cedex 13, France. Tel: +33(0)1 42 16 42 80; fax: +33(0)1 42 16 42 61; e-mail:

Received 19 February, 2013

Revised 17 May, 2013

Accepted 20 May, 2013

These data have been presented in part at the 12th International Workshop on Adverse Drug Reactions and Co-Morbidities in HIV, 4–6 November 2010, London, UK.

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As combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) must currently be continued for life, treatment complications have become a major concern. Osteoporosis is a growing problem in the aging HIV-infected population, being associated with an increased risk of fractures [1,2]. In a meta-analytic review by Brown and Qaqish [3], the pooled odds ratios for reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and osteoporosis in HIV-infected patients compared with uninfected controls were 6.4 and 3.7, respectively. Cross-sectional studies [2,4–8] of HIV-infected men on cART have reported prevalences of osteopenia ranging from 22 to 65% and of osteoporosis from 3 to 33%. First-line antiretroviral therapy has been linked to a 2–6% decline in BMD during the first 12 months [9–13], particularly with tenofovir (TDF) [10,14]. Longitudinal studies have shown that BMD remains relatively stable in treatment-experienced patients [15–17]. Here we studied the course of BMD in HIV-infected men with osteopenia, and sought risk factors for abnormal BMD decline.

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Patients and methods

Study population

Eligible patients were HIV-1-infected adult men with −2.5 ≤T-score less than −1 at the hip or lumbar spine; no secondary cause of osteoporosis; a known duration of HIV-1 infection of at least 5 years or a CD4+ cell nadir less than 200/μl; and having been screened for the ANRS 120 Fosivir trial [18]. Exclusion criteria included current or prior use of any antiosteoporotic agent [19]. The Institutional Review Board of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital approved the study protocol, and all patients provided their written informed consent.

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Study endpoints

The primary endpoint was the change in BMD at the lumbar spine and hip 24–36 months after the diagnosis of osteopenia.

Secondary objective was to identify factors associated with a decline in BMD larger than the smallest detectable difference (SDD). The SDD was defined as a decrease in BMD of −0.034 g/cm2 for the lumbar spine site and −0.027 g/cm2 for the total hip site [20]. This is the smallest change that exceeds the variability inherent in BMD measurements [21].

BMD (total hip and lumbar spine) was evaluated at baseline and between months 24 and 36 by means of dual-energy-X ray-absorptiometry (DXA) with central reading as previously described [10,18,19]. As GE-Lunar (Madison, Wisconsin, USA) and Hologic (Bedford, Massachusetts, USA) DXA devices were used (the same device was always used for a given patient), the standardized BMD (sBMD, mg/cm2) was calculated [22]. For the GE-Lunar device the sBMD was 952.2 × BMD at the lumbar spine and 979 × BMD – 31 at the hip. For the Hologic device the sBMD was 1075.5 × BMD at the lumbar spine and 1008 × BMD + 6 at the hip [23].

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Statistical considerations

The changes between baseline and follow-up were compared using the Wilcoxon paired test for continuous variables, and the Mann–Whitney test to study the association of one continuous variable and one categorical variable. Univariate and multivariable logistic models were used to identify factors associated with a decline in BMD greater than the SDD at each site (total hip and lumbar spine).

As some parameters with missing data are known to influence BMD, and because it is better to impute missing data than to ignore them [24], we created 20 datasets in which missing data were imputed from each patient's other covariables, including demographic, biological and therapeutic data; risk factors for osteoporosis; and the decrease in BMD greater than the SDD or not. In these imputations, missing values were randomly sampled from their predicted distributions [25,26]. Analyses were run on each of the 20 data sets, including the imputed values, and the results were combined with Rubin's rules [26]. We assessed whether continuous variables were better modeled as continuous variables or as tertiles or for exposure to TDF either as no exposure, current exposure and past exposure or as none, 0–2.5 years, and more than 2.5 years, based on the lowest value of Akaike's information criterion for the corresponding univariate logistic regression model, and grouped together the closest values in order to obtain two classes for certain variables. Variables with univariate P values below 0.15 were then entered in multivariable logistic models.

The SPSS software package version 18.0 for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA) was used for all analyses.

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Patients’ characteristics

Among a total of 128 men screened, 97 (76%) accepted to participate. Three men were subsequently excluded because they had received antiosteoporotic agents leaving 94 men for evaluation. Of them, 46% were active smokers or had stopped smoking for less than 3 years. Median age was 46 years [interquartile range (IQR), 41–53], median BMI was 22.4 kg/m2 (20.8–25.0), median CD4+ cell count was 495 cells/μl (345–676), median CD4+ cell nadir was 164 cells/μl (69–261) and 71% had a plasma viral load below 500 copies/ml at baseline (at the time of the first DXA measurement). At baseline, the median T-score was −1.40 (−1.76 to −1.04) at the lumbar spine and −1.08 (−1.51 to −0.60) at hip. Median z-score were, respectively, −1.35 (−1.80 to −1.00) and −0.85 (−1.20 to −0.30). The median time between the two DXA measurements was 2.6 years (2.3–2.9). At the second DXA measurement, the median BMI was 22.5 kg/m2 (20.8–25.1) and the median change in BMI was 0.2 kg/m2 (IQR: −0.4–0.7, P = 0.086). Median CD4+ cell count was 587 cells/μl (446–771) and plasma HIV-RNA value was below 50 copies/ml in 87% of patients. All patients were receiving cART for a median of 7.5 years (5.8–9.5). Forty-four patients (47%) were receiving TDF, 31 (33%) had never taken TDF and 19 (20%) had stopped taking TDF for a median of 2.5 years. The median durations of protease inhibitor exposure and TDF exposure were, respectively, 6.7 years (2.7–9.9) and 1.4 years (0.0–3.6). Twenty-five OH Vitamin D, parathyroid hormone and calcium levels were available for, respectively, 42, 37 and 74 patients, with median values of 16.5 ng/ml (10.4–27.9), 48.0 pg/ml (30.6–71.9) and 2.30 mmol/l (2.25–2.37), respectively.

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Evolution of bone mineral density

After a median time of 2.6 years, BMD had fallen significantly at both sites, with a mean percentage change from baseline of −1.3 ± 4.1% (P = 0.010) at the lumbar spine and −0.9 ± 4.5% (P = 0.033) at the hip (Fig. 1). The proportion of patients with a decrease in BMD larger than the SDD was 25.5% at the lumbar spine and 27.7% at the hip, with a mean decrease of −6.6 ± 2.7% at the spine and −6.0 ± 3.7% at hip. Two patients had a T-score less than −2.5 (osteoporosis) in at least one site on the second DXA. The osteoporosis incidence rate was 8.4 (1.0–30.9) per 1000 person-years. Only one fracture (traumatic) occurred during the study.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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Factors predictive of a larger decline in bone mineral density

Table 1 shows the factors associated with a greater than 1 SDD decline in BMD at the lumbar spine and hip by using univariate and multivariable logistic models. At the lumbar spine, patients currently exposed to TDF (OR: 2.4, P = 0.016) were more likely than patients who had never been exposed to TDF to have a decline in BMD exceeding the SDD (Table 1a). The mean decrease in BMD was −2.2 ± 4.2% in patients currently exposed to TDF and −0.4 ± 3.9% in patients on other regimen. At the hip, patients who had been exposed to TDF for a cumulative period of less than 2.5 years had a higher risk (OR: 2.8, P = 0.010) of experiencing a decline in BMD exceeding the SDD relative to never exposed patients (Table 1b). The mean decrease in BMD at the hip were −0.7 ± 3.1% in patients who had never been exposed to TDF, −2.7 ± 4.2% in those exposed for less than 2.5 years and 0.4 ± 5.4% in those exposed for more than 2.5 years.

Table 1-a

Table 1-a

Table 1-b

Table 1-b

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The evolution of bone density demineralization in HIV-infected patients with osteopenia is a key issue in the context of aging. In this prospective study on 94 middle aged men with a median age of 46 years, cART treated for a median duration of 7.5 years, we showed a significant decline in BMD at the spine and hip over a two and half time period, representing −0.5 and −0.4% per year, respectively. About one-quarter of the patients had a decline in BMD exceeding the SDD, with a mean of −2.6% per year at the spine and −2.3% per year at the hip. The incidence of osteoporosis observed here was 8.4 per 1000 person-year and was similar to that reported at 2 years in the Aquitaine Cohort [27].

With regards to the risks factors for osteoporosis [28], after accounting for the traditional factors such as age and BMI, TDF exposure was associated with a BMD decline exceeding the SDD at both the lumbar spine and the hip. Given the relatively small size of the study, we only studied exposure (current and cumulative) to drugs known to potentially influence BMD (protease inhibitors and TDF) [10,14,29]. Vitamin D, parathyroid hormone and calcium levels were not significantly associated with such a decline, possibly because of the high frequency of missing data that needed to be imputed. The high level of missing values for these parameters is explained by the fact that they were collected if they had been measured between the two DXA measurements and were not mandated per protocol.

The average decrease in BMD observed here is similar to that found in longitudinal studies of HIV-infected patients on long-term cART [16,17], but lower than that observed after 1 year of first-line antiretroviral therapy [9,10,14]. In the months following treatment initiation, immune restoration could contribute to bone loss through cytokine activation [30]. Two recent studies [14,29] showed a larger decrease in BMD (lumbar spine and hip) in previously untreated patients receiving TDF/FTC than in those receiving ABC/3TC, after 1 year of treatment. Gallant et al. [11] observed a significantly larger decrease in BMD at the lumbar spine (but not at the hip), 1 year after first-line treatment initiation with TDF compared with stavudine. However, the decrease in BMD appeared between weeks 24 and 48 and then remained stable until week 144. The present study shows that TDF exposure is a risk factor for bone loss, and that bone loss continues, albeit at a slower pace, well beyond the first year of treatment. TDF might interfere with bone metabolism through its renal tubule toxicity and by increasing bone turnover [14]. It may also induce secondary hyperparathyroidism, particularly in patients who are vitamin D-deficient [31], which was the case in approximately 75% of our cohort for which vitamin-D level was measured. TDF is currently far the most widely used nucleotide analogue in cART. Whether this decline could be reversible or at least slowed down after switch to therapies that avoid drugs with an impact on BMD is a question of growing importance for managing aging HIV-infected population.

In conclusion, the loss of BMD observed here in osteopenic HIV-infected patients with no identified cause of secondary osteoporosis was similar to that reported in the general population of similar age at total hip and slightly higher at lumbar spine [32]. These data suggest that osteopenic patients with controlled viral load, receiving TDF, that is the majority of patients under care in resource rich settings, should regularly be monitored for BMD.

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D.C., C.K., S.K. and S.R. were involved in the conception and design of the study.

C.K., A.S., J-P.V., M.B., C.R., S.K. and S.R. were responsible for the provision of study materials or patients. S.K. was a member of DXA-centralized reading centre.

L.A. and D.C. were responsible for statistical analysis.

L.A., C.K., J-P.V., M.B., A.S., C.R., S.K., D.C. and S.R. were involved in interpretation of the data.

L.A., D.C. and S.R. were responsible for drafting of the article.

L.A., C.K., J-P.V., M.B., A.S., C.R., S.K., D.C. and S.R. did the critical revision of the article for important intellectual content and also final approval of the article.

Appendix: members of the Osteovir study team.

Clinical Centers (in order of the number of patients screened): Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris–C.K., M.A. Valantin, L. Schneider and H. Schoen; Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris–A.S, M. Bonmarchand and M. Irguetsira; Hopital Necker, Paris–J-P.V., G. Obenga and A. Maignan; Hopital Avicenne, Bobigny–M.B., P. Honore, F. Rouges and L. Tuna; Hopital Cochin, Paris–D. Salmon-Ceron, N.Benammar, F. Almasi and V. Le Baut.

DXA Centers: Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris–S. Rozenberg and R. Inaoui; Hopital Avicenne, Bobigny–P. Weinmann; Hopital Cochin, Paris–C. Roux, S. Kolta and N Vautier.

Source of funding: the Agence Nationale de Recherche contre le SIDA et les hépatites virales (ANRS, France).

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Conflicts of interest

No author has any financial or personal relationships with people or organizations that could inappropriately influence this work, although most authors have, at some stage in the past, received funding from a variety of pharmaceutical companies for research, travel grants, speaking engagements or consultancy fees.

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antiretroviral therapy; bone mineral density; HIV; osteopenia; osteoporosis; smallest detectable difference; tenofovir

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