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1.  Antiretroviral concentrations in small hair samples as a feasible marker of adherence in rural Kenya 
Antiretroviral hair levels objectively quantify drug exposure over time and predict virologic responses. We assessed the acceptability and feasibility of collecting small hair samples in a rural Kenyan cohort. 95% of participants (354/373) donated hair. Although median self-reported adherence was 100% (IQR 96–100%), a wide range of hair concentrations likely indicates overestimation of self-reported adherence and the advantages of a pharmacologic adherence measure. Higher nevirapine (NVP) hair concentrations observed in women and older adults require further study to unravel behavioral versus pharmacokinetic contributors. In resource-limited settings, hair antiretroviral levels may serve as a low-cost quantitative biomarker of adherence.
PMCID: PMC4146734  PMID: 24694932
Adherence; nevirapine; hair concentrations; resource-limited setting; feasibility and acceptability; pharmacologic measure
2.  Reply to Karch et al 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2014;210(1):159-160.
PMCID: PMC4161999  PMID: 24421253
3.  Prospective Study on the Clinical Course and Outcomes in Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury 
Critical care medicine  2014;42(7):1676-1687.
Transfusion-related acute lung injury is the leading cause of transfusion-related mortality. A prospective study using electronic surveillance was conducted at two academic medical centers in the United States with the objective to define the clinical course and outcomes in transfusion-related acute lung injury cases.
Prospective case study with controls.
University of California, San Francisco and Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
We prospectively enrolled 89 patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury, 164 transfused controls, and 145 patients with possible transfusion-related acute lung injury.
Measurements and Main Results
Patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury had fever, tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, and prolonged hypoxemia compared with controls. Of the patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury, 29 of 37 patients (78%) required initiation of mechanical ventilation and 13 of 53 (25%) required initiation of vasopressors. Patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury and possible transfusion-related acute lung injury had an increased duration of mechanical ventilation and increased days in the ICU and hospital compared with controls. There were 15 of 89 patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury (17%) who died, whereas 61 of 145 patients with possible transfusion-related acute lung injury (42%) died and 7 of 164 of controls (4%) died. Patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury had evidence of more systemic inflammation with increases in circulating neutrophils and a decrease in platelets compared with controls. Patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury and possible transfusion-related acute lung injury also had a statistically significant increase in plasma interleukin-8, interleukin-10, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist posttransfusion compared with controls.
In conclusion, transfusion-related acute lung injury produced a condition resembling the systemic inflammatory response syndrome and was associated with substantial in-hospital morbidity and mortality in patients with transfusion-related acute lung injury compared with transfused controls. Patients with possible transfusion-related acute lung injury had even higher in-hospital morbidity and mortality, suggesting that clinical outcomes in this group are mainly influenced by the underlying acute lung injury risk factor(s).
PMCID: PMC4284060  PMID: 24776608
acute lung injury; human leukocyte antigen; human neutrophil antigen; pulmonary edema; transfusion reaction; transfusion-related acute lung injury
4.  Nevirapine Concentration in Hair Samples Is a Strong Predictor of Virologic Suppression in a Prospective Cohort of HIV-Infected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129100.
Effective antiretroviral (ARV) therapy depends on adequate drug exposure, yet methods to assess ARV exposure are limited. Concentrations of ARV in hair are the product of steady-state pharmacokinetics factors and longitudinal adherence. We investigated nevirapine (NVP) concentrations in hair as a predictor of treatment response in women receiving ARVs. In participants of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, who reported NVP use for >1 month from 2003–2008, NVP concentrations in hair were measured via liquid-chromatography-tandem mass-spectrometry. The outcome was virologic suppression (plasma HIV RNA below assay threshold) at the time of hair sampling and the primary predictor was nevirapine concentration categorized into quartiles. We controlled for age, race/ethnicity, pre-treatment HIV RNA, CD4 cell count, and self-reported adherence over the 6-month visit interval (categorized ≤ 74%, 75%–94% or ≥ 95%). We also assessed the relation of NVP concentration with changes in hepatic transaminase levels via multivariate random intercept logistic regression and linear regression analyses. 271 women contributed 1089 person-visits to the analysis (median 3 of semi-annual visits). Viral suppression was least frequent in concentration quartile 1 (86/178 (48.3%)) and increased in higher quartiles (to 158/204 (77.5%) for quartile 4). The odds of viral suppression in the highest concentration quartile were 9.17 times (95% CI 3.2–26, P < 0.0001) those in the lowest. African-American race was associated with lower rates of virologic suppression independent of NVP hair concentration. NVP concentration was not significantly associated with patterns of serum transaminases. Concentration of NVP in hair was a strong independent predictor of virologic suppression in women taking NVP, stronger than self-reported adherence, but did not appear to be strongly predictive of hepatotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4460031  PMID: 26053176
5.  Comparison of Surrogate and Direct Measurement of Insulin Resistance in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection: Impact of Obesity and Ethnicity 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;52(1):38-46.
Studies using surrogate estimates show high prevalence of insulin resistance in hepatitis C infection. This study prospectively evaluated the correlation between surrogate and directly measured estimates of insulin resistance and the impact of obesity and ethnicity on this relationship. Eighty-six nondiabetic, noncirrhotic patients with hepatitis C virus (age = 48 ± 7 years, 74% male, 44% white, 22% African American, 26% Latino, 70% genotype 1) were categorized into normal-weight (body mass index [BMI] < 25, n = 30), overweight (BMI = 25–29.9, n = 38), and obese (BMI ≥ 30, n = 18). Insulin-mediated glucose uptake was measured by steady-state plasma glucose (SSPG) concentration during a 240-minute insulin suppression test. Surrogate estimates included: fasting glucose and insulin, glucose/insulin, homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR), quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI), insulin (I-AUC) and glucose (G-AUC) area under the curve during oral glucose tolerance test, and the Belfiore and Stumvoll indexes. All surrogate estimates correlated with SSPG, but the magnitude of correlation varied (r = 0.30–0.64). The correlation coefficients were highest in the obese. I-AUC had the highest correlation among all ethnic and weight groups (r = 0.57–0.77). HOMA-IR accounted for only 15% of variability in SSPG in the normal weight group. The common HOMA-IR cutoff of ≤ 3 to define insulin resistance had high misclassification rates especially in the - group independent of ethnicity. HOMA-IR > 4 had the lowest misclassification rate (75% sensitivity, 88% specificity). Repeat HOMA-IR measurements had higher within-person variation in the obese (standard deviation = 0.77 higher than normal-weight, 95% confidence interval = 0.25–1.30, P = 0.005).
Because of limitations of surrogate estimates, caution should be used in interpreting data evaluating insulin resistance especially in nonobese, nondiabetic patients with HCV.
PMCID: PMC4391817  PMID: 20578127
6.  A Pilot Study Assessing the Safety and Latency-Reversing Activity of Disulfiram in HIV-1–Infected Adults on Antiretroviral Therapy 
In this pilot clinical trial, disulfiram was administered to HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy to determine the drug's effect on the latent reservoir. Reservoir size did not change; however, some participants experienced transient increases in viremia. Disulfiram deserves further study as an antilatency agent.
Background. Transcriptionally silent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA persists in resting memory CD4+ T cells despite antiretroviral therapy. In a primary cell model, the antialcoholism drug disulfiram has been shown to induce HIV-1 transcription in latently infected resting memory CD4+ T cells at concentrations achieved in vivo.
Methods. We conducted a single-arm pilot study to evaluate whether 500 mg of disulfiram administered daily for 14 days to HIV-1–infected individuals on stable suppressive antiretroviral therapy would result in reversal of HIV-1 latency with a concomitant transient increase in residual viremia or depletion of the latent reservoir in resting memory CD4+ T cells.
Results. Disulfiram was safe and well tolerated. There was a high level of subject-to-subject variability in plasma disulfiram levels. The latent reservoir did not change significantly (1.16-fold change; 95% confidence interval [CI], .70- to 1.92-fold; P = .56). During disulfiram administration, residual viremia did not change significantly compared to baseline (1.53-fold; 95% CI, .88- to 2.69-fold; P = .13), although residual viremia was estimated to increase by 1.88-fold compared to baseline during the postdosing period (95% CI, 1.03- to 3.43-fold; P = .04). In a post hoc analysis, a rapid and transient increase in viremia was noted in a subset of individuals (n = 6) with immediate postdose sampling (HIV-1 RNA increase, 2.96-fold; 95% CI, 1.29- to 6.81-fold; P = .01).
Conclusions. Administration of disulfiram to patients on antiretroviral therapy does not reduce the size of the latent reservoir. A possible dose-related effect on residual viremia supports future studies assessing the impact of higher doses on HIV-1 production. Disulfiram affects relevant signaling pathways and can be safely administered, supporting future studies of this drug.
PMCID: PMC3935499  PMID: 24336828
HIV-1 latent reservoir; disulfiram; latency-reversing agents
7.  Common Clinical Conditions – Age, Low BMI, Ritonavir Use, Mild Renal Impairment - Affect Tenofovir Pharmacokinetics in a Large Cohort of HIV-Infected Women 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(1):59-66.
Tenofovir is used commonly in HIV treatment and prevention settings, but factors that correlate with tenofovir exposure in real-world setting are unknown.
Intensive pharmacokinetic (PK) studies of tenofovir in a large, diverse cohort of HIV-infected women over 24-hours at steady-state were performed and factors that influenced exposure (assessed by areas-under-the-time-concentration curves, AUCs) identified
HIV-infected women (n=101) on tenofovir-based therapy underwent intensive 24-hour PK sampling. Data on race/ethnicity, age, exogenous steroid use, menstrual cycle phase, concomitant medications, recreational drugs and/or tobacco, hepatic and renal function, weight and body mass index (BMI) were collected. Multivariable models using forward stepwise selection identified factors associated with effects on AUC. Glomerular filtration rates (GFR) prior to starting tenofovir were estimated by the CKD-EPI equation using both creatinine and cystatin-C measures
The median (range) of tenofovir AUCs was 3350 (1031–13,911) ng x h/mL. Higher AUCs were associated with concomitant ritonavir use (1.33-fold increase, p 0.002), increasing age (1.21-fold increase per decade, p=0.0007) and decreasing BMI (1.04-fold increase per 10% decrease in BMI). When GFR was calculated using cystatin-C measures, mild renal insufficiency prior to tenofovir initiation was associated with higher subsequent exposure (1.35-fold increase when pre-tenofovir GFR <70mL/min, p=0.0075).
Concomitant ritonavir use, increasing age, decreasing BMI and lower GFR prior to tenofovir initiation as estimated by cystatin C were all associated with elevated tenofovir exposure in a diverse cohort of HIV-infected women. Clinicians treating HIV-infected women should be aware of common clinical conditions that affect tenofovir exposure when prescribing this medication.
PMCID: PMC3956315  PMID: 24275255
Tenofovir; pharmacokinetics; HIV-infected women; diverse populations; GFR; cystatin C
8.  Short Communication: A Low-Cost Method for Analyzing Nevirapine Levels in Hair as a Marker of Adherence in Resource-Limited Settings 
The measurement of antiretroviral concentrations in hair is emerging as an important technology to objectively quantify adherence to combination antiretroviral therapy. Hair levels of antiretrovirals are the strongest independent predictor of virologic success in large prospective cohorts of HIV-infected patients and surpass self-report in predicting outcomes. Hair is easy to collect and store, but validated methods to analyze antiretroviral levels in hair using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) are expensive. We report here on the development of a thin-layer chromatography (TLC) assay for the semiquantitative analysis of nevirapine in hair. TLC assay results from 11 samples were consistent with results using LC-MS/MS [Spearman correlation coefficient 0.99 (95% CI 0.95–0.996)]. This simple, low-cost method of analyzing nevirapine concentrations in hair may provide a novel monitoring tool for antiretroviral adherence in resource-limited settings and merits further study in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC3887402  PMID: 24164410
9.  HIV/HCV coinfection ameliorates the atherogenic lipoprotein abnormalities of HIV infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(1):49-58.
Higher levels of small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) subclasses have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The extent to which HIV infection and HIV/HCV coinfection are associated with abnormalities of lipoprotein subclasses is unknown.
Lipoprotein subclasses were measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in plasma samples from 569 HIV-infected and 5948 control participants in the FRAM, CARDIA and MESA studies. Multivariable regression was used to estimate the association of HIV and HIV/HCV coinfection with lipoprotein measures with adjustment for demographics, lifestyle factors, and waist-to-hip ratio.
Relative to controls, small LDL levels were higher in HIV-monoinfected persons (+381 nmol/L, p<.0001), with no increase seen in HIV/HCV coinfection (−16.6 nmol/L). Levels of large LDL levels were lower (−196 nmol/L, p<.0001) and small HDL were higher (+8.2 μmol/L, p<.0001) in HIV-monoinfection with intermediate values seen in HIV/HCV-coinfection. Large HDL levels were higher in HIV/HCV-coinfected persons relative to controls (+1.70 μmol/L, p<.0001), whereas little difference was seen in HIV-monoinfected persons (+0.33, p=0.075). Within HIV-infected participants, HCV was associated independently with lower levels of small LDL (−329 nmol/L, p<.0001) and small HDL (−4.6 μmol/L, p<.0001), even after adjusting for demographic and traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
HIV-monoinfected participants had worse levels of atherogenic LDL lipoprotein subclasses compared with controls. HIV/HCV coinfection attenuates these changes, perhaps by altering hepatic factors affecting lipoprotein production and/or metabolism. The effect of HIV/HCV coinfection on atherosclerosis and the clinical consequences of low small subclasses remain to be determined.
PMCID: PMC4267724  PMID: 24136113
HIV infection; HCV infection; lipoproteins; cardiovascular disease
10.  The Association of Self-perception of Body Fat Changes and Quality of Life in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
AIDS care  2013;25(12):10.1080/09540121.2013.793265.
Body fat changes are of concern to HIV-seropositive adults on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Studies examining the association of body fat changes and quality of life (QOL) in the setting of HIV infection have been conducted predominately in men. We examined the relationship of self-perceived body fat change with QOL among 1,671 HAART-using HIV-seropositive women (mean age 40 ± 8 years; 54% African American, 24% reporting ≤ 95% HAART adherence) from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Self-perception of any fat loss was associated with lower overall QOL. Report of any peripheral fat loss was strongly associated with nearly all QOL domains (i.e., physical functioning, role functioning, energy/fatigue, social functioning, pain, emotional well-being, health perception, and perceived health index) except cognitive functioning, whereas report of any central fat loss was significantly associated with lower social and cognitive functioning. Report of any central fat gain was associated with lower overall QOL, but only physical functioning, energy/fatigue, and cognitive functioning were significantly affected. A significant association of report of any peripheral fat gain with overall QOL was not observed, however peripheral fat gain was significantly associated with lower physical functioning and pain. We found that any report of fat loss, especially in peripheral body sites is associated with lower QOL, as was any report of central fat gain. Ultimately health providers and patients need to be informed of these associations so as to better support HIV-seropositive women who live with these effects.
PMCID: PMC3769511  PMID: 23656440
body image perception; lipoatrophy; lipohypertrophy; Quality of life; HIV-seropositive women; HAART
11.  Increase in 2–Long Terminal Repeat Circles and Decrease in D-dimer After Raltegravir Intensification in Patients With Treated HIV Infection: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(9):1436-1442.
Background. The degree to which human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to replicate during antiretroviral therapy (ART) is controversial. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess whether raltegravir intensification reduces low-level viral replication, as defined by an increase in the level of 2–long terminal repeat (2-LTR) circles.
Methods. Thirty-one subjects with an ART-suppressed plasma HIV RNA level of <40 copies/mL and a CD4+ T-cell count of ≥350 cells/mm3 for ≥1 year were randomly assigned to receive raltegravir 400 mg twice daily or placebo for 24 weeks. 2-LTR circles were analyzed by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction at weeks 0, 1, 2, and 8.
Results. The median duration of ART suppression was 3.8 years. The raltegravir group had a significant increase in the level of 2-LTR circles, compared to the placebo group. The week 1 to 0 ratio was 8.8-fold higher (P = .0025) and the week 2 to 0 ratio was 5.7-fold higher (P = .023) in the raltegravir vs. placebo group. Intensification also led to a statistically significant decrease in the D-dimer level, compared to placebo (P = .045).
Conclusions. Raltegravir intensification resulted in a rapid increase in the level of 2-LTR circles in a proportion of subjects, indicating that low-level viral replication persists in some individuals even after long-term ART. Intensification also reduced the D-dimer level, a coagulation biomarker that is predictive of morbidity and mortality among patients receiving treatment for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3789577  PMID: 23975885
HIV; raltegravir intensification; 2-LTR circles; ongoing viral replication; D-dimer
12.  Antiretroviral Therapy Initiated Within 6 Months of HIV Infection Is Associated With Lower T-Cell Activation and Smaller HIV Reservoir Size 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(8):1202-1211.
Background. CD4+/CD8+ T-cell activation levels often remain elevated in chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection despite initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). T-cell activation predicts early death and blunted CD4+ T-cell recovery during ART and may affect persistent HIV reservoir size. We investigated whether very early ART initiation is associated with lower on-therapy immune activation and HIV persistence.
Methods. From a cohort of patients with early HIV infection (<6 months duration since infection) we identified persons who started ART early (<6 months after infection) or later (≥2 years after infection) and maintained ≥2 years of virologic suppression; at-risk HIV-negative persons were controls. We measured CD4+/CD8+ T-cell activation (percent CD38+/HLA-DR+) and HIV reservoir size (based on HIV DNA and cell-associated RNA levels).
Results. In unadjusted analyses, early ART predicted lower on-therapy CD8+ T-cell activation (n = 34; mean, 22.1%) than achieved with later ART (n = 32; mean, 28.8%; P = .009), although levels in early ART remained elevated relative to HIV-negative controls (P = .02). Early ART also predicted lower CD4+ T-cell activation than with later ART (5.3% vs 7.5%; P = .06). Early ART predicted 4.8-fold lower DNA levels than achieved with later ART (P = .005), and lower cell-associated RNA levels (difference in signal-to-cutoff ratio (S/Co), 3.2; P = .035).
Conclusions. ART initiation <6 months after infection is associated with lower levels of T-cell activation and smaller HIV DNA and RNA reservoir size during long-term therapy.
PMCID: PMC3778965  PMID: 23852127
HIV antiretroviral therapy; early ART; T-cell activation; inflammation; HIVreservoir; HIV eradication; HIV cure
13.  Insulin Sensitivity and Variability in Hepatitis C Virus Infection Using Direct Measurement 
Digestive diseases and sciences  2012;58(4):1141-1148.
Background & Aims
Studies investigating insulin resistance (IR) in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection have used surrogate measures of IR that have limited reliability. We aimed to describe the distribution and risk factors associated with IR and its change over time in HCV using direct measurement.
One hundred and two non-cirrhotic, non-diabetic, HCV-infected subjects underwent clinical, histologic, and metabolic evaluation, and 27 completed repeat evaluation at 6 months. Insulin-mediated glucose uptake was measured by steady-state plasma glucose (SSPG) concentration during the insulin suppression test.
Three subjects with diabetes were excluded and 95 completed all testing. SSPG ranged from 39 to 328 mg/dL (mean 135 mg/dL) and was stable over time (mean SSPG change -0.3 mg/dL). SSPG was associated with Latino ethnicity (Coef 67, 95%CI 37-96), BMI (Coef 19 per 5 kg/m2, 95%CI 5-32), ferritin (Coef 1.4 per 10 ng/ml, 95%CI 0.2-2.5), male gender (Coef -48, 95%CI -80 to -16), and HDL (Coef -16, 95%CI -28 to -5 mg/dL). Current tobacco use (Coef 55, 95%CI 19-90), steatosis (Coef -44, 95%CI -86 to -3), and increases in BMI (Coef 30 per 5 kg/m2, 95%CI 6-53) and triglyceride (Coef 3.5 per 10 mg/dL, 95%CI 0.3-6.7) predicted change in SSPG.
There was a wide spectrum of insulin resistance in our HCV population. Host factors, rather than viral factors, appeared to more greatly influence insulin action and its change in HCV.
PMCID: PMC3566265  PMID: 23086116
Diabetes; HCV; Insulin Resistance; Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
14.  Risk Factors and Outcomes in Transfusion-associated Circulatory Overload 
The American journal of medicine  2013;126(4):357.e29-357.e38.
Transfusion-associated circulatory overload is characterized by new respiratory distress and hydrostatic pulmonary edema within 6 hours after blood transfusion, but its risk factors and outcomes are poorly characterized.
Using a case control design, we enrolled 83 patients with severe transfusion-associated circulatory overload identified by active surveillance for hypoxemia and 163 transfused controls at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn) hospitals. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using multivariable logistic regression, and survival and length of stay were analyzed using proportional hazard models.
Transfusion-associated circulatory overload was associated with chronic renal failure (OR 27.0; 95% CI, 5.2–143), a past history of heart failure (OR 6.6; 95% CI, 2.1–21), hemorrhagic shock (OR 113; 95% CI, 14.1–903), number of blood products transfused (OR 1.11 per unit; 95% CI, 1.01–1.22), and fluid balance per hour (OR 9.4 per liter; 95% CI, 3.1–28). Patients with transfusion-associated circulatory overload had significantly increased in-hospital mortality (hazard ratio 3.20; 95% CI, 1.23–8.10) after controlling for Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation-II (APACHE-II) score, and longer hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay.
The risk of transfusion-associated circulatory overload increases with the number of blood products administered and a positive fluid balance, and in patients with pre-existing heart failure and chronic renal failure. These data, if replicated, could be used to construct predictive algorithms for transfusion-associated circulatory overload, and subsequent modifications of transfusion practice might prevent morbidity and mortality associated with this complication.
PMCID: PMC3652681  PMID: 23357450
Blood transfusion; Morbidity; Mortality; Pulmonary edema; Risk factors
15.  Targeting of Conserved Gag-Epitopes in Early HIV Infection Is Associated with Lower Plasma Viral Load and Slower CD4+ T Cell Depletion 
We aimed to investigate whether the character of the immunodominant HIV-Gag peptide (variable or conserved) targeted by CD8+ T cells in early HIV infection would influence the quality and quantity of T cell responses, and whether this would affect the rate of disease progression. Treatment-naive HIV-infected study subjects within the OPTIONS cohort at the University of California, San Francisco, were monitored from an estimated 44 days postinfection for up to 6 years. CD8+ T cells responses targeting HLA-matched HIV-Gag-epitopes were identified and characterized by multicolor flow cytometry. The autologous HIV gag sequences were obtained. We demonstrate that patients targeting a conserved HIV-Gag-epitope in early infection maintained their epitope-specific CD8+ T cell response throughout the study period. Patients targeting a variable epitope showed decreased immune responses over time, although there was no limitation of the functional profile, and they were likely to target additional variable epitopes. Maintained immune responses to conserved epitopes were associated with no or limited sequence evolution within the targeted epitope. Patients with immune responses targeting conserved epitopes had a significantly lower median viral load over time compared to patients with responses targeting a variable epitope (0.63 log10 difference). Furthermore, the rate of CD4+ T cell decline was slower for subjects targeting a conserved epitope (0.85% per month) compared to subjects targeting a variable epitope (1.85% per month). Previous studies have shown that targeting of antigens based on specific HLA types is associated with a better disease course. In this study we show that categorizing epitopes based on their variability is associated with clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3581067  PMID: 23140171
16.  Decreased limb muscle and increased central adiposity are associated with 5-year all-cause mortality in HIV infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(11):1405-1414.
Unintentional loss of weight and muscle due to aging and disease has been associated with increased mortality. Wasting and weight loss occur in HIV infection even in the modern era of effective antiretroviral therapy.
We determined the association of MRI-measured regional and total skeletal muscle and adipose tissue with 5-year, all-cause mortality in 922 HIV-infected persons in the study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM).
After 5 years of follow-up, HIV-infected participants with arm skeletal muscle in the lowest tertile had a mortality rate of 23%, compared with 11 and 8% for those in the middle and highest tertiles. After multivariable adjustment for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, HIV-related factors, inflammatory markers, and renal disease, we found that lower arm skeletal muscle, lower leg skeletal muscle and higher visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were each independently associated with increased mortality. Those in the lowest tertile of arm or leg skeletal muscle had higher odds of death [arm: odds ratio (OR)=2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96–4.0; leg: OR=2.4, 95% CI 1.2–4.8] compared with the highest respective tertiles. Those in the highest tertile of VAT had 2.1-fold higher odds of death (95% CI 1.1–4.0) compared with the lowest VAT tertile.
Lower muscle mass and central adiposity appear to be important risk factors for mortality in HIV-infected individuals. A substantial proportion of this risk may be unrecognized because of the current reliance on body mass index in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3933309  PMID: 21572308
body composition; cachexia; fat redistribution; HIV infection; lipoatrophy; lipodystrophy; mortality; sarcopenia
17.  Strong Relationship between Oral Dose and Tenofovir Hair Levels in a Randomized Trial: Hair as a Potential Adherence Measure for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83736.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials using tenofovir-based regimens have demonstrated that high levels of adherence are required to evaluate efficacy; the incorporation of objective biomarkers of adherence in trial design has been essential to interpretation, given the inaccuracy of self-report. Antiretroviral measurements in scalp hair have been useful as a marker of long-term exposure in the HIV treatment setting, and hair samples are relatively easy and inexpensive to collect, transport, and store for analysis. To evaluate the relationship between dose and tenofovir concentrations in hair, we examined the dose proportionality of tenofovir in hair in healthy, HIV-uninfected adults.
A phase I, crossover pharmacokinetic study was performed in 24 HIV-negative adults receiving directly-observed oral tenofovir tablets administered 2, 4, and 7 doses/week for 6 weeks, with a ≥3-week break between periods. Small samples of hair were collected after each six-week period and analyzed for tenofovir concentrations. Geometric-mean-ratios compared levels between each pair of dosing conditions. Intensive plasma pharmacokinetic studies were performed during the daily-dosing period to calculate areas-under-the-time-concentration curves (AUCs).
Over 90% of doses were observed per protocol. Median tenofovir concentrations in hair increased monotonically with dose. A log-linear relationship was seen between dose and hair levels, with an estimated 76% (95% CI 60–93%) increase in hair level per 2-fold dose increase. Tenofovir plasma AUCs modestly predicted drug concentrations in hair.
This study found a strong linear relationship between frequency of dosing and tenofovir levels in scalp hair. The analysis of quantitative drug levels in hair has the potential to improve adherence measurement in the PrEP field and may be helpful in determining exposure thresholds for protection and explaining failures in PrEP trials. Hair measures for adherence monitoring may also facilitate adherence measurement in real-world settings and merit further investigation in upcoming PrEP implementation studies and programs.
Trial Registration +NCT00903084.
PMCID: PMC3885443  PMID: 24421901
18.  Lower Liver-Related Death in African American Women With HIV/HCV Co-Infection Compared to Caucasian and Hispanic Women 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(5):1699-1705.
Among individuals with and without concurrent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), racial/ethnic differences in the natural history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been described. African-Americans have lower spontaneous HCV clearance than Caucasians, yet slower rates of liver fibrosis once chronically infected. It is not clear how these differences in the natural history of hepatitis C affect mortality, in either HIV positive or negative individuals. We conducted a cohort study of HIV/HCV co-infected women followed in the multicenter, NIH-funded Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) to determine the association of self-reported race/ethnicity with all-cause and liver-related mortality. Survival analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards models. The eligible cohort (n=794) included 140 Caucasians, 159 Hispanics, and 495 African Americans. There were 438 deaths and 49 liver-related deaths during a median follow-up of 8.9 years and maximum follow-up of 16 years. African American co-infected women had significantly lower liver-related mortality compared to Caucasian (HR 0.41 95% CI 0.19–0.88, p=0.022) and Hispanic co-infected women (HR 0.38 95% CI 0.19–0.76, p=0.006). All-cause mortality was similar between racial/ethnic groups (HRs for all comparisons 0.82–1.03, logrank p=0.8).
African American co-infected women were much less likely to die from liver disease as compared to Caucasians and Hispanics, independent of other causes of death. Future studies are needed to investigate the reasons for this marked racial/ethnic discrepancy in liver-related mortality.
PMCID: PMC3440547  PMID: 22618868
race; ethnicity; viral hepatitis; mortality; gender
19.  A Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in CYP2B6 Leads to >3-Fold Increases in Efavirenz Concentrations in Plasma and Hair Among HIV-Infected Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(9):1453-1461.
Background. Efavirenz exhibits marked interindividual variability in plasma levels and toxicities. Prior pharmacogenetic studies usually measure exposure via single plasma levels, examine limited numbers of polymorphisms, and rarely model multiple contributors. We analyzed numerous genetic and nongenetic factors impacting short-term and long-term exposure in a large heterogeneous population of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected women.
Methods. We performed 24-hour intensive pharmacokinetic studies in 111 women receiving efavirenz under actual-use conditions and calculated the area-under-the-concentration-time curve (AUC) to assess short-term exposure; the efavirenz concentration in hair was measured to estimate long-term exposure. A total of 182 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 45 haplotypes in 9 genes were analyzed in relationship to exposure by use of multivariate models that included a number of nongenetic factors.
Results. Efavirenz AUCs increased 1.26-fold per doubling of the alanine aminotransferase level and 1.23-fold with orange and/or orange juice consumption. Individuals with the CYP2B6 516TT genotype displayed 3.5-fold increases in AUCs and 3.2-fold increases in hair concentrations, compared with individuals with the TG/GG genotype. Another SNP in CYP2B6 (983TT) and a p-glycoprotein haplotype affected AUCs without substantially altering long-term exposure.
Conclusions. This comprehensive pharmacogenomics study showed that individuals with the CYP2B6 516TT genotype displayed >3-fold increases in both short-term and long-term efavirenz exposure, signifying durable effects. Pharmacogenetic testing combined with monitoring of hair levels may improve efavirenz outcomes and reduce toxicities.
PMCID: PMC3466997  PMID: 22927450
20.  Association of Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility Variants and Early Attack Location in the CNS 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75565.
The anatomic location of subsequent relapses in early multiple sclerosis (MS) appears to be predicted by the first attack location. We sought to determine if genetic polymorphisms associated with MS susceptibility are associated with attack location.
17 genome-wide association study-identified MS susceptibility polymorphisms were genotyped in 503 white, non-Hispanic patients seen within a year of MS onset. Their association with the CNS location of the first two MS attacks was assessed in multivariate repeated measures analyses (generalized estimating equations with robust standard errors).
The IL12A polymorphism was independently associated with increased odds of attacks involving the spinal cord (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.11, 2.07, p = 0.009), as was the IRF8 polymorphism (OR = 2.40, 95% CI [1.04, 5.50], p = 0.040). The IL7R polymorphism was associated with reduced odds of attacks involving the brainstem/cerebellum (OR = 0.46, 95% CI 0.22, 0.97, p = 0.041), as were the TNFRSF1A and IL12A polymorphisms. The CD6 polymorphism conferred reduced odds of optic neuritis as an attack location (OR = 0.69, 95% CI [0.49, 0.97], p = 0.034). Several other genes showed trends for association with attack location.
Some of the MS susceptibility genes may be associated with MS attack location. The IL12A polymorphism is of particular interest given that interferon beta therapy appears to influence IL12 levels. These findings may lead to improved understanding of MS pathogenesis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3794979  PMID: 24130718
21.  Prospective Antiretroviral Treatment of Asymptomatic, HIV-1 Infected Controllers 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003691.
The study of HIV-infected “controllers” who are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may provide insights for HIV cure and vaccine strategies. Despite maintaining very low levels of plasma viremia, controllers have elevated immune activation and accelerated atherosclerosis. However, the degree to which low-level replication contributes to these phenomena is not known. Sixteen asymptomatic controllers were prospectively treated with ART for 24 weeks. Controllers had a statistically significant decrease in ultrasensitive plasma and rectal HIV RNA levels with ART. Markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa also decreased substantially with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels below conventional assays (<40 copies/mL). These data confirm that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state. ART should be considered for these individuals ( NCT01025427).
Author Summary
HIV-infected “controllers” are rare individuals who are HIV-seropositive but are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). There has been intense interest in characterizing these unique individuals because they have been considered as a potential model for a “functional cure” of HIV. Previously, our group has shown that controllers have elevated levels of T cell activation and accelerated atherosclerosis, suggesting that very low levels of viral replication may lead to disproportionately high levels of immune activation. However, the degree to which viral replication contributes to these outcomes is not known. We therefore conducted the first, prospective study of ART initiation in a cohort of asymptomatic HIV-infected controllers, in order to determine the virologic and immunologic effects of treating controllers with ART. Controllers had a significant decreases in ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA, rectal HIV RNA, and markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with extremely low pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels (<40 copies/mL). These data suggest that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state.
PMCID: PMC3795031  PMID: 24130489
22.  Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility Genes: Associations with Relapse Severity and Recovery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75416.
Patients with early multiple sclerosis (MS) have stereotyped attack severity and recovery. We sought to determine if polymorphisms in MS susceptibility genes are associated with these attack features or with the risk of a second attack.
503 white subjects evaluated within a year of MS onset were included in the study. The severity of and recovery from the first two attacks were determined based on published definitions. Seventeen MS susceptibility genes were genotyped at the UCSF MS Genetics laboratory. Each polymorphism was evaluated in multivariate ordinal models, adjusted for the other polymorphisms, for its association with attack severity and recovery. We also assessed if these polymorphisms were associated with increased risk of a second attack.
The MPHOSPH9 polymorphism was associated with greater attack severity (odds ratios [OR] = 1.47, 95% CI [1.11, 1.94], p = 0.008), while the RGS1 and TNFRSF1A polymorphisms tended to be associated with reduced attack severity. The CD6 polymorphism tended to be associated with increased odds of worse attack recovery (OR = 1.25, 95% CI [0.93, 1.68], p = 0.13). In those who were HLA-DRB1-negative, the EVI5 polymorphism was associated with attacks of less severity; in HLA-DRB1 positive patients, EVI5 was associated with attacks of greater severity and worse recovery. The IL7R, TNFRSF1A, and GPC5 polymorphisms tended to be associated with having a second event within a year.
Some MS susceptibility polymorphisms may be associated with attack severity, recovery, or frequency. Further characterization of these genes may lead to a better understanding of MS pathogenesis and to a more individualized treatment approach.
PMCID: PMC3793991  PMID: 24130709
23.  Intermuscular Adipose Tissue and Metabolic Associations in HIV Infection 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;19(2):283-291.
Intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) is associated with metabolic abnormalities similar to those associated with visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Increased IMAT has been found in obese human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women. We hypothesized that IMAT, like VAT, would be similar or increased in HIV-infected persons compared with healthy controls, despite decreases in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) found in HIV infection. In the second FRAM (Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection) exam, we studied 425 HIV-infected subjects and 211 controls (from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study) who had regional AT and skeletal muscle (SM) measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Multivariable linear regression identified factors associated with IMAT and its association with metabolites. Total IMAT was 51% lower in HIV-infected participants compared with controls (P = 0.003). The HIV effect was attenuated after multivariable adjustment (to −28%, P < 0.0001 in men and −3.6%, P = 0.70 in women). Higher quantities of leg SAT, upper-trunk SAT, and VAT were associated with higher IMAT in HIV-infected participants, with weaker associations in controls. Stavudine use was associated with lower IMAT and SAT, but showed little relationship with VAT. In multivariable analyses, regional IMAT was associated with insulin resistance and triglycerides (TGs). Contrary to expectation, IMAT is not increased in HIV infection; after controlling for demographics, lifestyle, VAT, SAT, and SM, HIV+ men have lower IMAT compared with controls, whereas values for women are similar. Stavudine exposure is associated with both decreased IMAT and SAT, suggesting that IMAT shares cellular origins with SAT.
PMCID: PMC3731045  PMID: 20539305
24.  HIV viremia and changes in kidney function 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(9):1089-1096.
To evaluate the effect of HIV infection on longitudinal changes in kidney function and to identify independent predictors of kidney function changes in HIV-infected individuals.
A prospective cohort.
Cystatin C was measured at baseline and at the 5-year follow-up visit of the Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection in 554 HIV-infected participants and 230 controls. Control participants were obtained from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Glomerular filtration rate (eGFRcys) was estimated using the formula 76.7 × cysC−1.19.
Compared with controls, HIV-infected participants had a greater proportion of clinical decliners (annual decrease in eGFRcys > 3 ml/min per 1.73 m2; 18 versus 13%, P=0.002) and clinical improvers (annual increase in eGFRcys > 3 ml/min per 1.73 m2; 26 versus 6%, P< 0.0001). After multivariable adjustment, HIV infection was associated with higher odds of both clinical decline (odds ratio 2.2; 95% confidence interval 1.3, 3.9, P = 0.004) and clinical improvement (odds ratio 7.3; 95% confidence interval 3.9, 13.6, P ≤ 0.0001). Among HIV-infected participants, a decrease in HIV viral load during follow-up was independently associated with clinical improvement; conversely, higher baseline and an increase in viral load during follow-up were associated with clinical decline. No individual antiretroviral drug or drug class appeared to be substantially associated with clinical decline or improvement.
Compared with controls, HIV-infected persons were more likely both to have clinical decline and clinical improvement in kidney function during 5 years of follow-up. The extent of viremic control had a strong association with longitudinal changes in kidney function.
PMCID: PMC3725756  PMID: 19352136
cystatin C; glomerular filtration rate; HIV; kidney; viral load
25.  Cortisol Patterns Are Associated with T Cell Activation in HIV 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e63429.
The level of T cell activation in untreated HIV disease is strongly and independently associated with risk of immunologic and clinical progression. The factors that influence the level of activation, however, are not fully defined. Since endogenous glucocorticoids are important in regulating inflammation, we sought to determine whether less optimal diurnal cortisol patterns are associated with greater T cell activation.
We studied 128 HIV-infected adults who were not on treatment and had a CD4+ T cell count above 250 cells/µl. We assessed T cell activation by CD38 expression using flow cytometry, and diurnal cortisol was assessed with salivary measurements.
Lower waking cortisol levels correlated with greater T cell immune activation, measured by CD38 mean fluorescent intensity, on CD4+ T cells (r = −0.26, p = 0.006). Participants with lower waking cortisol also showed a trend toward greater activation on CD8+ T cells (r = −0.17, p = 0.08). A greater diurnal decline in cortisol, usually considered a healthy pattern, correlated with less CD4+ (r = 0.24, p = 0.018) and CD8+ (r = 0.24, p = 0.017) activation.
These data suggest that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis contributes to the regulation of T cell activation in HIV. This may represent an important pathway through which psychological states and the HPA axis influence progression of HIV.
PMCID: PMC3724863  PMID: 23922644

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