Objective: To assess the effect of baseline- and treatment-related factors on immunologic recovery after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Methods: Nine hundred eighty antiretroviral-naive HIV-1+ subjects were randomized to start stavudine/didanosine or zidovudine/lamivudine with nelfinavir, efavirenz, or both nelfinavir and efavirenz.
Results: Greater CD4 cell recovery was associated with age of 40 years or younger, female sex, higher baseline naive/memory CD4 cell ratio, higher baseline virus load (VL), and virologic suppression (VS). Most subjects who maintained an undetectable VL had a substantial increase in CD4 cell count, but 13% of the subjects did not, even after 3 years of VS. Persistent T-cell activation was associated with lower CD4 cell recovery, even in subjects who achieved VS. Initial treatment assignment did not affect total CD4 cell recovery, naive/memory CD4 cell reconstitution, or decline in T-cell activation. In addition to CD4 cell recovery, B-cell counts rose substantially after ART initiation.
Conclusions: In this large randomized trial, younger age, female sex, higher naive/memory CD4 cell ratio, higher baseline VL, and VS were associated with greater CD4 cell increase, whereas persistent T-cell activation was associated with impaired CD4 cell recovery after ART initiation. Initial treatment assignment did not affect CD4 cell reconstitution.