Background: The prevalence and severity of lipodystrophy syndrome with long-term therapy for HIV-1 infection that includes a protease inhibitor is unknown. We studied the natural course of the syndrome to develop diagnostic criteria and identifying markers that predict its severity.
Methods: We assessed 113 patients who were receiving HIV-1 protease inhibitors (mean 21 months) and 45 HIV-1-infected patients (28 with follow-up) never treated with a protease inhibitor. Lipodystrophy was assessed by questionnaire (including patients' rating of severity), physical examination, and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Body composition and fasting lipid and glycaemic variables were compared with data obtained 8 months previously. Oral glucose tolerance was investigated.
Findings: There was 98% concordance between patients' reports of the presence or absence of lipodystrophy (reported by 83% of protease-inhibitor recipients and 4% of treatment-naïve patients; p=0.0001) and physical examination. Patients' ratings of lipodystrophy were significantly associated with declining total body fat (p=0.02). Lower body fat was independently associated with longer duration of protease-inhibitor therapy and lower bodyweight before therapy, and more severe lipodystrophy was associated with higher previous (p < 0.03) and current (p < or = 0.01) triglyceride and C-peptide concentrations, and less peripheral and greater central fat (p=0.005 and 0.09, respectively). Body fat declined a mean 1.2 kg over 8 months in protease-inhibitor recipients (p=0.05). The prevalence of hyperlipidaemia remained stable over time (74% of treated patients vs 28% of naïve patients; p=0.0001). Impaired glucose tolerance occurred in 16% of protease-inhibitor recipients and diabetes mellitus in 7%; in all but three patients these abnormalities were detected on 2 h post-glucose load values.
Interpretation: Diagnosis and rating severity of lipodystrophy is aided by the combination of physical examination, patient's rating, and measurement of body fat, fasting triglycerides, and C-peptide. Weight before therapy, fasting triglyceride, and C-peptide concentrations early in therapy, and therapy duration seem to predict lipodystrophy severity. Lipodystrophy was common and progressive after almost 2 years of protease inhibitor therapy, but was not usually severe. Hyperlipidaemia and impaired glucose tolerance were also common.