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Original Article

CD4+ T-cell count increase in HIV-1-infected patients with suppressed viral load within 1 year after start of antiretroviral therapy

Marcel Wolbers, Manuel Battegay, Bernard Hirschel, Hansjakob Furrer, Matthias Cavassini, Barbara Hasse, Pietro L Vernazza, Enos Bernasconi, Gilbert Kaufmann, Heiner C Bucher, the Swiss HIV Cohort Study

Corresponding author name: Heiner C Bucher
Corresponding author e-mail: bucherh@uhbs.ch

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2007; 12:889-897


Background: CD4+ T-cell recovery in patients with continuous suppression of plasma HIV-1 viral load (VL) is highly variable. This study aimed to identify predictive factors for long-term CD4+ T-cell increase in treatment-naive patients starting combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).

Methods: Treatment-naive patients in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study reaching two VL measurements <50 copies/ml >3 months apart during the 1st year of cART were included (n=1,816 patients). We studied CD4+ T-cell dynamics until the end of suppression or up to 5 years, subdivided into three periods: 1st year, years 2–3 and years 4–5 of suppression. Multiple median regression adjusted for repeated CD4+ T-cell measurements was used to study the dependence of CD4+ T-cell slopes on clinical covariates and drug classes.

Results: Median CD4+ T-cell increases following VL suppression were 87, 52 and 19 cells/μl per year in the three periods. In the multiple regression model, median CD4+ T-cell increases over all three periods were significantly higher for female gender, lower age, higher VL at cART start, CD4+ T-cell <650 cells/μl at start of the period and low CD4+ T-cell increase in the previous period. Patients on tenofovir showed significantly lower CD4+ T-cell increases compared with stavudine.

Conclusions: In our observational study, long-term CD4+ T-cell increase in drug-naive patients with suppressed VL was higher in regimens without tenofovir. The clinical relevance of these findings must be confirmed in, ideally, clinical trials or large, collaborative cohort projects but could influence treatment of older patients and those starting cART at low CD4+ T-cell levels.


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