Date Published: October 21, 2008
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Lewis H Kuller, Russell Tracy, Waldo Belloso, Stephane De Wit, Fraser Drummond, H. Clifford Lane, Bruno Ledergerber, Jens Lundgren, Jacqueline Neuhaus, Daniel Nixon, Nicholas I Paton, James D Neaton, Steven Deeks
Abstract: BackgroundIn the Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy trial, all-cause mortality was higher for participants randomized to intermittent, CD4-guided antiretroviral treatment (ART) (drug conservation [DC]) than continuous ART (viral suppression [VS]).We hypothesized that increased HIV-RNA levels following ART interruption induced activation of tissue factor pathways, thrombosis, and fibrinolysis.Methods and FindingsStored samples were used to measure six biomarkers: high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), amyloid A, amyloid P, D-dimer, and prothrombin fragment 1+2. Two studies were conducted: (1) a nested case–control study for studying biomarker associations with mortality, and (2) a study to compare DC and VS participants for biomarker changes. For (1), markers were determined at study entry and before death (latest level) for 85 deaths and for two controls (n = 170) matched on country, age, sex, and date of randomization. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated with logistic regression. For each biomarker, each of the three upper quartiles was compared to the lowest quartile. For (2), the biomarkers were assessed for 249 DC and 250 VS participants at study entry and 1 mo following randomization. Higher levels of hsCRP, IL-6, and D-dimer at study entry were significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality. Unadjusted ORs (highest versus lowest quartile) were 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0–4.1; p = 0.05), 8.3 (95% CI, 3.3–20.8; p < 0.0001), and 12.4 (95% CI, 4.2–37.0; p < 0.0001), respectively. Associations were significant after adjustment, when the DC and VS groups were analyzed separately, and when latest levels were assessed. IL-6 and D-dimer increased at 1 mo by 30% and 16% in the DC group and by 0% and 5% in the VS group (p < 0.0001 for treatment difference for both biomarkers); increases in the DC group were related to HIV-RNA levels at 1 mo (p < 0.0001). In an expanded case–control analysis (four controls per case), the OR (DC/VS) for mortality was reduced from 1.8 (95% CI, 1.1–3.1; p = 0.02) to 1.5 (95% CI, 0.8–2.8) and 1.4 (95% CI, 0.8–2.5) after adjustment for latest levels of IL-6 and D-dimer, respectively.ConclusionsIL-6 and D-dimer were strongly related to all-cause mortality. Interrupting ART may further increase the risk of death by raising IL-6 and D-dimer levels. Therapies that reduce the inflammatory response to HIV and decrease IL-6 and D-dimer levels may warrant investigation.Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00027352).
Partial Text: The Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (SMART) trial compared episodic use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) guided by CD4+ count with the current practice of continuous ART. Risk of opportunistic disease (OD) or death was more than twice as great for those in the episodic compared to the continuous ART group (hazard ratio = 2.6; p < 0.001). The episodic ART strategy was also associated with an 84% (p = 0.007) increased risk of all-cause mortality. Most of the deaths that occurred were not attributable to AIDS-defining conditions . The methods and results of the SMART trial have been published . Elevated levels of either IL-6 or D-dimer at study entry were strongly related to all-cause mortality in the case–control study. In the random sample, both D-dimer and IL-6 increased in the DC group compared to the VS group, particularly in the large subgroup on ART at entry with a suppressed HIV-RNA level. Increases in both markers in the DC group were related to the level of HIV-RNA after 1 mo. Finally, increases in these markers following randomization were associated with mortality. Taken together, these findings suggest that HIV-induced activation of inflammatory and coagulation pathways has an adverse effect on all-cause mortality among patients with relatively preserved CD4+ counts, and that interrupting ART may further increase this risk by raising IL-6 and D-dimer levels. Further research on the relationship of these biomarkers with mortality and morbidity in treated and untreated HIV-infected individuals is warranted. Source: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050203