Premature lesions of the carotid vessels in HIV-1-infected patients treated with protease inhibitors

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ObjectivesTo evaluate the presence of premature atherosclerotic lesions of epiaortic vessels in HIV-1-infected protease inhibitor-(PI) treated patients compared with PI-naive patients and healthy individuals.DesignOne-hundred and two HIV-1-positive patients, including 55 treated with PI for at least 12 months and 47 either naive or treated with PI-sparing regimens, were subjected to epiaortic vessel ultrasonography. These data were compared with those obtained from 104 healthy individuals.MethodsIntima characteristics, pulsation and resistance indexes, and minimal, peak and mean speed were evaluated using a colour power doppler. Atherosclerotic plaques were described. Independent risk factors and values for glycaemia, cholesterolaemia and triglyceridaemia were considered. Statistical analysis included the chi-square test, Mantel–Haenszel test, odds ratio and logistic regression analysis.ResultsOf the PI-treated patients, 29 out of 55 (52.7%) presented acquired lesions of the vascular wall at ultrasonography, whereas similar lesions were found in seven out of 47 (14.9%) PI-naive patients. Of the 104 healthy individuals, seven cases (6.7%) of intimal medial thickness were noted. A slightly significant correlation was found between carotid lesions and age, male sex and hypercholesterolaemia, whereas cigarette smoking, hypertriglyceridaemia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stage significantly increased the risk of vascular lesions (P = 0.022, P = 0.017 and P = 0.079 respectively). However, the highest significance regarded use of PI (P = 0.011). These results were confirmed by logistic regression analysis.ConclusionsThese data demonstrate a higher than expected prevalence of premature carotid lesions in the PI-treated compared with PI-naive patients. If confirmed, a periodic ultrasonographic study of the vascular wall should be included in the follow-up of HIV infected patients.

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