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1.  Atazanavir Concentration in Hair Is the Strongest Predictor of Outcomes on Antiretroviral Therapy 
In a longitudinal study of outcomes on atazanavir-based therapy in a large cohort of HIV-infected women, hair levels of atazanavir were the strongest independent predictor of virologic suppression. Hair antiretroviral concentrations may serve as a useful tool in HIV care.
Background. Adequate exposure to antiretrovirals is important to maintain durable responses, but methods to assess exposure (eg, querying adherence and single plasma drug level measurements) are limited. Hair concentrations of antiretrovirals can integrate adherence and pharmacokinetics into a single assay.
Methods. Small hair samples were collected from participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a large cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected (and at-risk noninfected) women. From 2003 through 2008, we analyzed atazanavir hair concentrations longitudinally for women reporting receipt of atazanavir-based therapy. Multivariate random effects logistic regression models for repeated measures were used to estimate the association of hair drug levels with the primary outcome of virologic suppression (HIV RNA level, <80 copies/mL).
Results. 424 WIHS participants (51% African-American, 31% Hispanic) contributed 1443 person-visits to the analysis. After adjusting for age, race, treatment experience, pretreatment viral load, CD4 count and AIDS status, and self-reported adherence, hair levels were the strongest predictor of suppression. Categorized hair antiretroviral levels revealed a monotonic relationship to suppression; women with atazanavir levels in the highest quintile had odds ratios (ORs) of 59.8 (95% confidence ratio, 29.0–123.2) for virologic suppression. Hair atazanavir concentrations were even more strongly associated with resuppression of viral loads in subgroups in which there had been previous lapses in adherence (OR, 210.2 [95% CI, 46.0–961.1]), low hair levels (OR, 132.8 [95% CI, 26.5–666.0]), or detectable viremia (OR, 400.7 [95% CI, 52.3–3069.7]).
Conclusions. Antiretroviral hair levels surpassed any other predictor of virologic outcomes to HIV treatment in a large cohort. Low antiretroviral exposure in hair may trigger interventions prior to failure or herald virologic failure in settings where measurement of viral loads is unavailable. Monitoring hair antiretroviral concentrations may be useful for prolonging regimen durability.
doi:10.1093/cid/cir131
PMCID: PMC3079399  PMID: 21507924
2.  Protease Inhibitor Levels in Hair Samples Strongly Predict Virologic Responses to HIV Treatment 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(4):471-478.
Objective
Antiretroviral (ARV) therapies fail when behavioral or biologic factors lead to inadequate medication exposure. Currently available methods to assess ARV exposure are limited. Levels of ARVs in hair reflect plasma concentrations over weeks to months and may provide a novel method for predicting therapeutic responses.
Design/methods
The Women's Interagency HIV Study, a prospective cohort of HIV-infected women, provided the basis for developing and assessing methods to measure commonly-prescribed protease inhibitors (PIs) - lopinavir (LPV) and atazanavir (ATV) - in small hair samples. We examined the association between hair PI levels and initial virologic responses to therapy in multivariate logistic regression models.
Results
ARV concentrations in hair were strongly and independently associated with treatment response for 224 women starting a new PI-based regimen. For participants initiating LPV/RTV, the odds ratio (OR) for virologic suppression was 39.8 (95%CI 2.8–564) for those with LPV hair levels in the top tertile (>1.9ng/mg) compared to the bottom (≤0.41ng/mg) when controlling for self-reported adherence, age, race, starting viral load and CD4, and prior PI experience. For women starting ATV, the adjusted OR for virologic success was 7.7 (95%CI 2.0-29.7) for those with hair concentrations in the top tertile (>3.4ng/mg) compared to the lowest (≤1.2ng/mg).
Conclusions
PI levels in small hair samples were the strongest independent predictor of virologic success in a diverse group of HIV-infected adults. This noninvasive method for determining ARV exposure may have particular relevance for the epidemic in resource-poor settings due to the ease of collecting and storing hair.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e328325a4a9
PMCID: PMC2654235  PMID: 19165084
Hair levels; therapeutic drug monitoring; antiretroviral exposure; virologic response; protease inhibitors; atazanavir; lopinavir; WIHS cohort
3.  Growth hormone enhances thymic function in HIV-1–infected adults 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(3):1085-1098.
Growth hormone (GH) is an underappreciated but important regulator of T cell development that can reverse age-related declines in thymopoiesis in rodents. Here, we report findings of a prospective randomized study examining the effects of GH on the immune system of HIV-1–infected adults. GH treatment was associated with increased thymic mass. In addition, GH treatment enhanced thymic output, as measured by both the frequency of T cell receptor rearrangement excision circles in circulating T cells and the numbers of circulating naive and total CD4+ T cells. These findings provide compelling evidence that GH induces de novo T cell production and may, accordingly, facilitate CD4+ T cell recovery in HIV-1–infected adults. Further, these randomized, prospective data have shown that thymic involution can be pharmacologically reversed in humans, suggesting that immune-based therapies could be used to enhance thymopoiesis in immunodeficient individuals.
doi:10.1172/JCI32830
PMCID: PMC2248326  PMID: 18292808

Results 1-3 (3)