Breaks From HIV/AIDS Drug Regimens Can Lead to Inflammation, Premature Death, Study Says
HIV-positive people who take breaks from their drug regimens are more likely to have higher levels of proteins associated with inflammation, a potentially hazardous immune system response, according to a study published Monday in PloS Medicine, Reuters reports. The findings come from an international study conducted to determine whether it is beneficial to allow patients to take breaks from their HIV/AIDS drug regimens after previous research showed it could be safe, cost-effective and limit possible side effects. However, the study was stopped early in 2006 because researchers found that participants who took drugs intermittently were more likely to die prematurely compared with participants who took drugs continuously, often from causes not typically associated with HIV/AIDS.
According to Reuters, the researchers -- led by James Neaton of the University of Minnesota -- looked at 85 of the patients who died early in the study and compared their blood samples with the 170 patients who did not. Three blood proteins, or "biomarkers," linked with inflammation were found at higher levels in the study participants who died prematurely. The three biomarkers were high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, D-dimer and interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Neaton said that the "magnitude of the increased risk of death associated with elevations of these biomarkers is clinically relevant," adding, "Research aimed at understanding whether treating elevated levels of these markers is beneficial and is now needed." According to the researchers, it might be possible to develop drugs to address such inflammation (Fox, Reuters, 10/20).
The study is available online.