Background: No data are available on the use of atazanavir (ATV) in patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD), and guidelines discourage its use in this setting. The objective of our study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of unboosted ATV in patients infected with HIV and suffering from ESLD who had been screened for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT(x)).
Patients and methods: This was a single-arm, 24-week pilot study. Atazanavir-naïve patients undergoing a highly active antiretroviral therapy were switched to ATV 400 mg daily plus two non-thymidine nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
Results: Fifteen patients (ten males and five females, age range 36-59 years) were enrolled in the study. Of these, 11 (73%) had a baseline CD4 cell count > 200 microl(-1), and 12 had undetectable plasma HIV-RNA. 12 subjects (80%) were able to remain on ATV until week 24 (n = 10) or transplantation (n = 2). At the end of the study, the median CD4 cell count was 340 microl(-1) , and nine of the ten patients had undetectable RNA. During the study period, two patients received a transplant, two died of intracerebral hemorrhage and lactic acidosis, respectively, and one discontinued ATV. Among the ten patients completing the 24-week study, no significant changes from baseline were observed for most of the liver function markers, with the exception of unconjugated bilirubin (from 1.15 mg/dl to 1.32 mg/dl, p = 0.047).
Conclusions: Unboosted ATV treatment did not worsen liver disease and was able to maintain or gain immunovirological eligibility for OLT(x) in all patients, with a limited effect on unconjugated bilirubin. These results suggest that ATV is an easy-to-use drug in patients with ESLD.