Correspondence between the effect of zidovudine plus lamivudine on plasma HIV level/CD4 lymphocyte count and the incidence of clinical disease in infected individuals. North American Lamivudine HIV Working Group.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether apparently beneficial changes in plasma HIV RNA level and CD4 lymphocyte count that are induced by antiretroviral therapy are associated with a corresponding clinical benefit. METHODS: For 620 patients in two randomized, double-blind trials of lamivudine (3TC) and zidovudine (ZDV) plasma HIV RNA and CD4 lymphocyte count changes were compared in patients randomized to 3TC plus ZDV and patients randomized to other treatment arms. The effect of therapy on the HIV RNA level and CD4 count was compared with the effect of therapy on clinical endpoints over the same time period. RESULTS: Median baseline values for all subjects were 42 420 copies/ml for HIV RNA and 277 x 10(6)/l for CD4 count. During the trial a significantly lower HIV RNA level and higher CD4 count was sustained in the ZDV/3TC group compared with the other group, with a difference in the median area under the curve from baseline per month of follow-up of 0.38 log10 copies/ml HIV RNA and 0.18 log2 x 10(6)/l CD4 cells (P < 0.001 in each case). For patients who were initially asymptomatic or in CDC stage B, the adjusted relative hazard (RH) of AIDS for a twofold lower CD4 count was 3.14 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.44-6.83] and for a 10-fold higher HIV RNA level was 3.22 (1.20-8.59). The RH progression to AIDS expected with ZDV/3TC compared with the control treatments, given the observed effects of treatment on CD4 cell counts and HIV RNA levels, is 0.52, whereas the observed value was 0.16 (0.03-0.74). After adjustment for HIV RNA and CD4 changes over time the observed RH of progression to AIDS for ZDV/3TC treatment compared with controls was increased to 0.36 and was no longer significant (95% CI, 0.07-1.85). CONCLUSION: In this analysis of two trials, the effects of ZDV/3TC in reducing plasma HIV RNA and raising peripheral blood CD4 counts were associated with concurrent clinical benefits and the effect of treatment on these markers could account for at least part of the clinical benefits of therapy that were observed.
Phillips, AN; Eron, J; Bartlett, J; Kuritzkes, DR; Johnson, VA; Gilbert, C; Johnson, J; Keller, A; Hill, AM
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