April 4, 2003
Researchers from Emory University and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center have used a lipid biomarker to help establish the relationship between antiretroviral (ARV) therapy and the development of lipid abnormalities. ARV therapy with protease inhibitors (PIs) and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) has considerably reduced mortality from AIDS. However, lipid abnormalities that may lead to premature atherosclerosis have also become common among ARV-treated patients, and scientists have been seeking the specific mechanisms involved in this relationship. Apolipoprotein C-III (ApoC-III) is a newly identified biomarker of lipid metabolism that is believed to be a risk factor for coronary artery disease because it produces elevated levels of triglycerides.
A research team led by Dr. Virgil Brown from the Emory Lipid Research Laboratory and the VA Medical Center, working closely with Emory Center for AIDS Research investigators, conducted two research studies -- one in a group of 202 HIV-positive women and one in a group of 271 HIV-positive men.
In the study of women, two-thirds had received ARV for at least three months, 25 percent had no therapy in the last three months, and 9 percent had received no ARV therapy. In the study of men, 85 percent had received ARV for more than three months and 15 percent had received no ARV therapy. In both groups, patients treated with either PIs or NNRTIs were more likely to have higher ApoC-III levels than patients on no therapy, and the elevated level of this biomarker corresponded to elevated triglyceride levels on both treatment groups.