Genotypic susceptibility score (GSS) and CD4+ T cell recovery in HIV-1 patients with suppressed viral load

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Objectives: HIV drug resistance, measured by the genotypic susceptibility score (GSS), has a deleterious effect on the virological outcome of HIV-1-infected patients. However, it is not known if GSS retains any predictive value for CD4 recovery in patients with suppressed viral load.

Methods: Four hundred and six patients on virological failure (>500 copies/mL) with GSS <6 months prior to switch therapy who achieved undetectable plasma viral load (<50 copies/mL) within 1 year, remained undetectable >1 year on an unchanged regimen and had CD4 data available during entire follow-up were included. Adjusted and unadjusted analyses of all characteristics at switch related to CD4 recovery were made for three time frames: (i) ‘switch–suppression’; (ii) ‘suppression–1 year’; and (iii) ‘switch–1 year’.

Results: Higher GSS was associated with a greater CD4 recovery between ‘switch’ and ‘1 year’ in the unadjusted analysis (P = 0.010); however, the effect of GSS was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for pre-switch clinical (CD4 count and plasma viral load) and demographic variables. Furthermore, only a lower pre-switch CD4 count was associated with increased CD4 recovery in the ‘suppression–1 year’ period in both unadjusted and adjusted models. The main CD4 recovery occurred in ‘switch–suppression’ and the variables associated, both unadjusted and adjusted, were CD4 and plasma viral load at switch, maintaining a trend for GSS (P = 0.06).

Conclusions: In individuals who re-suppressed HIV viraemia after switching therapy, regimens having a higher GSS were associated with improved CD4 recovery only during the period from switch to virological suppression, but, once viral load is re-suppressed, the GSS of the new regimen has no further effect on subsequent CD4 recovery.

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