Background: Chronic inflammation in treated HIV infection is associated with mortality and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). We evaluated the safety and potential efficacy of low-dose methotrexate (LDMTX) in treated HIV.
Methods: This was a phase 2 randomized, double-blind, multicenter trial in adults ≥40 years old with treated HIV, with CD4+ T-cell count ≥400 cells/μL and with/at increased risk for ASCVD. Participants received LDMTX (5-15 mg/week) or placebo (plus folic acid) for 24 weeks and were followed for an additional 12 weeks. Primary endpoints were safety and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD).
Results: The 176 participants (90% male) had a median (Q1, Q3) age of 54 (49, 59) years. LDMTX was associated with decreases in CD4+ T cells at week 24 and CD8+ T cells at weeks 8, 12, and 24. Eleven participants (12.8%) experienced safety events in the LDMTX group vs 5 (5.6%) in placebo (Δ = 7.2%, upper 1-sided 90% CI, 13.4%; Pnoninferiority = .037). Week 24 change in FMD was 0.47% with LDMTX and 0.09% with placebo (P = .55). No inflammatory markers changed differentially with LDMTX compared to placebo.
Conclusions: Adults with HIV and increased ASCVD risk treated with LDMTX had more safety events than with placebo, but the prespecified noninferiority margin of 15% was not exceeded. LDMTX had no significant effect on endothelial function or inflammatory biomarkers but was associated with a significant decrease in CD8+ T cells. The balance of risks and potential benefits of LDMTX in this population will require additional investigation.
Clinical trials registration: NCT01949116.
Keywords: endothelial function; human immunodeficiency virus; inflammation.
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