Background: Fibrosis in lymph nodes may limit CD4+ T-cell recovery, and lymph node and adipose tissue fibrosis may contribute to inflammation and comorbidities despite antiretroviral therapy (ART). We hypothesized that the angiotensin receptor blocker and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ agonist telmisartan would decrease lymph node or adipose tissue fibrosis in treated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) infection.
Methods: In this 48-week, randomized, controlled trial, adults continued HIV-suppressive ART and received telmisartan or no drug. Collagen I, fibronectin, and phosphorylated SMAD3 (pSMAD3) deposition in lymph nodes, as well as collagen I, collagen VI, and fibronectin deposition in adipose tissue, were quantified by immunohistochemical analysis at weeks 0 and 48. Two-sided rank sum and signed rank tests compared changes over 48 weeks.
Results: Forty-four participants enrolled; 35 had paired adipose tissue specimens, and 29 had paired lymph node specimens. The median change overall in the percentage of the area throughout which collagen I was deposited was -2.6 percentage points (P = 0.08) in lymph node specimens and -1.3 percentage points (P = .001) in adipose tissue specimens, with no between-arm differences. In lymph node specimens, pSMAD3 deposition changed by -0.5 percentage points overall (P = .04), with no between-arm differences. Telmisartan attenuated increases in fibronectin deposition (P = .06). In adipose tissue, changes in collagen VI deposition (-1.0 percentage point; P = .001) and fibronectin deposition (-2.4 percentage points; P < .001) were observed, with no between-arm differences.
Conclusions: In adults with treated HIV infection, lymph node and adipose tissue fibrosis decreased with continued ART alone, with no additional fibrosis reduction with telmisartan therapy.