Objectives: We evaluated the potential cardiac effects of in-utero exposures to antiretroviral drugs in HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) children.
Design and methods: We compared echocardiographic parameters of left ventricular function (ejection fraction, fractional shortening, and stress-velocity index) and structure (left ventricular dimension, posterior wall/septal thickness, mass, thickness-to-dimension ratio, and wall stress) (expressed as Z-scores to account for age and body surface area) between HEU and HIV-unexposed cohorts from the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study's Surveillance Monitoring for ART Toxicities study. Within the HEU group, we investigated the associations between the echocardiographic Z-scores and in-utero exposures to maternal antiretroviral drugs.
Results: There were no significant differences in echocardiographic Z-scores between 417 HEU and 98 HIV-unexposed children aged 2-7 years. Restricting the analysis to HEU children, first-trimester exposures to combination antiretroviral therapy (a regimen including at least three antiretroviral drugs) and to certain specific antiretroviral drugs were associated with significantly lower stress-velocity Z-scores (mean decreases of 0.22-0.40 SDs). Exposure to combination antiretroviral therapy was also associated with lower left ventricular dimension Z-scores (mean decrease of 0.44 SD). First-trimester exposure to combination antiretroviral therapy was associated with higher mean left ventricular posterior wall thickness and lower mean left ventricular wall stress Z-scores.
Conclusion: There was no evidence of significant cardiac toxicity of perinatal combination antiretroviral therapy exposure in HEU children. Subclinical differences in left ventricular structure and function with specific in-utero antiretroviral exposures indicate the need for a longitudinal cardiac study in HEU children to assess long-term cardiac risk and cardiac monitoring recommendations.