Effect of tesamorelin on visceral fat and liver fat in HIV-infected patients with abdominal fat accumulation: a randomized clinical trial

JAMA. 2014 Jul;312(4):380-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.8334.


Importance: Among patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), visceral adiposity is associated with metabolic dysregulation and ectopic fat accumulation. Tesamorelin, a growth hormone-releasing hormone analog, specifically targets visceral fat reduction but its effects on liver fat are unknown.

Objective: To investigate the effect of tesamorelin on visceral and liver fat.

Design, setting, and patients: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted among 50 antiretroviral-treated HIV-infected men and women with abdominal fat accumulation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The first patient was enrolled on January 10, 2011; for the final patient, the 6-month study visit was completed on September 6, 2013.

Interventions: Participants were randomized to receive tesamorelin, 2 mg (n=28), or placebo (n=22), subcutaneously daily for 6 months.

Main outcomes and measures: Primary end points were changes in visceral adipose tissue and liver fat. Secondary end points included glucose levels and other metabolic end points.

Results: Forty-eight patients received treatment with study drug. Tesamorelin significantly reduced visceral adipose tissue (mean change, -34 cm2 [95% CI, -53 to -15 cm2] with tesamorelin vs 8 cm2 [95% CI, -14 to 30 cm2] with placebo; treatment effect, -42 cm2 [95% CI, -71 to -14 cm2]; P = .005) and liver fat (median change in lipid to water percentage, -2.0% [interquartile range {IQR}, -6.4% to 0.1%] with tesamorelin vs 0.9% [IQR, -0.6% to 3.7%] with placebo; P = .003) over 6 months, for a net treatment effect of -2.9% in lipid to water percentage. Fasting glucose increased in the tesamorelin group at 2 weeks (mean change, 9 mg/dL [95% CI, 5-13 mg/dL] vs 2 mg/dL [95% CI, -3 to 8 mg/dL] in the placebo group; treatment effect, 7 mg/dL [95% CI, 1-14 mg/dL]; P = .03), but changes at 6 months in fasting glucose (mean change, 4 mg/dL [95% CI, -2 to 10 mg/dL] with tesamorelin vs 2 mg/dL [95% CI, -4 to 7 mg/dL] with placebo; treatment effect, 2 mg/dL [95% CI, -6 to 10 mg/dL]; P = .72 overall across time points) and 2-hour glucose (mean change, -1 mg/dL [95% CI, -18 to 15 mg/dL] vs -8 mg/dL [95% CI, -24 to 8 mg/dL], respectively; treatment effect, 7 mg/dL [95% CI, -16 to 29 mg/dL]; P = .53 overall across time points) were not significant.

Conclusions and relevance: In this preliminary study of HIV-infected patients with abdominal fat accumulation, tesamorelin administered for 6 months was associated with reductions in visceral fat and additionally with modest reductions in liver fat. Further studies are needed to determine the clinical importance and long-term consequences of these findings.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01263717.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / drug effects
  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / therapeutic use
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • tesamorelin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01263717