Inflammatory biomarkers and abacavir use in the Women's Interagency HIV Study and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study

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Objective:To assess associations between abacavir (ABC) use and systemic inflammation.Design:Nested case–control study.Methods:The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) cohort participants who initiated ABC were matched, using propensity score methods, to ABC-unexposed persons. Levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) (μg/ml), interleukin-6 (IL-6) (pg/ml), and D-dimer (μg/ml) were measured from pre-HAART and on-HAART plasma. Random-effects models compared markers by ABC exposure and by changes from pre-HAART levels.Results:Biomarkers were measured in N = 508 matched pairs (328 women; 180 men). Pre-HAART levels did not differ by exposure group except that hsCRP levels were higher among WIHS women who subsequently used ABC (P = 0.04). Regardless of ABC use, mean hsCRP increases and D-dimer reductions were seen when comparing pre-HAART to on-HAART levels, in the overall group (28 and −27%), for MACS men (28 and −31%) and for WIHS women [29 and −24%, P < 0.01 for all]; IL-6 levels declined in MACS men (P = 0.02). No adjusted biomarker level differences existed by ABC exposure at the on-HAART visit. HIV RNA reductions correlated with D-dimer (r = 0.14, P < 0.01) and IL-6 (r = 0.12, P < 0.01) reductions. Associations between ABC use and mean biomarker levels were modified by pre-HAART antiretroviral therapy experience. Renal dysfunction was equally likely among non-ABC and ABC recipients.Discussion:ABC use was not associated with plasma elevations in hsCRP, IL-6, and D-dimer. Mechanisms other than increased systemic inflammation may account for ABC's reported association with increased cardiovascular disease. HAART-associated reductions in D-dimer and IL-6 were apparent regardless of ABC use and were correlated with HIV RNA reductions.

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