Metabolic benefits 24 months after replacing a protease inhibitor with abacavir, efavirenz or nevirapine

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Objective:To evaluate the 24-month metabolic and morphological benefits obtained from replacing the protease inhibitor (PI) in a regimen with nevirapine, efavirenz or abacavir.Design and methods:NEFA was a randomized study designed to compare the efficacy of nevirapine, efavirenz or abacavir as substitutes for PI. A subset of 90 patients [abacavir (n = 29), efavirenz (n = 32), nevirapine (n = 29)] formed the metabolic study. Fasting total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and triglycerides levels were determined. Glucose homeostasis parameters were also collected. Lipodystrophy was evaluated by clinical examination and morphological measurements.Results:Treatment simplification led to overall lipid profile improvements. At 24 months, the two non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors produced similar lipid benefits: HDL-c levels increased [efavirenz, 15% (P = 0.001); nevirapine, 21% (P < 0.001)] and TC to HDL-c ratios decreased [efavirenz, 14% (P < 0.001); nevirapine, 19% (P < 0.01)], an effect not observed in the abacavir arm. Non-HDL-c levels decreased by 10% in both the abacavir (P = 0.001) and efavirenz (P < 0.05) arms. Significant decreases in the levels of triglycerides occurred for the first year in all treatments; however, at 24 months most of the initial loss had been regained. Patients with baseline moderate or severe lipodystrophy obtained less-pronounced lipid benefits. Several insulin resistance markers showed a trend towards improvement. Conversely, no improvements in morphological abnormalities were observed.Conclusions:Replacing PI with efavirenz, nevirapine or abacavir improved the lipid profile, with more marked results in non-lipodystrophic patients. In contrast, this strategy does not seem to be effective for reversing body fat abnormalities.

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