Background: Statins exert pleiotropic anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects, which might translate into antiviral activity. We evaluated whether reported current statin exposure is associated with lower levels of markers of HIV persistence and immune activation/inflammation.
Methods: We compared levels of markers of HIV viral persistence [cell-associated HIV RNA (CA-RNA), CA-DNA, and single copy assay plasma HIV RNA] and immune activation/inflammation (IL-6, IP-10, neopterin, sCD14, sCD163, and TNF-alpha) between statin users and nonusers among participants of ACTG A5321 who initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) during chronic infection and maintained virologic suppression (HIV-1 RNA levels ≤50 copies/mL) for ≥3 years.
Results: A total of 303 participants were analyzed. Median time on the current statin was 2.9 years (1.2-5.1). There were no differences between statin users and nonusers in levels of CA-DNA (median 650 vs. 540 copies/10 CD4 T cells; P = 0.58), CA-RNA (53 vs. 37 copies/10 CD4 T cells; P = 0.12), or single copy assay (0.4 vs. 0.4 copies/mL; P = 0.45). Similarly, there were no significant differences between statin users and nonusers in markers of inflammation/activation, except for IP-10 (137 vs. 118 pg/mL; P = 0.028). Findings were unchanged after adjustment for factors including pre-ART CD4 and HIV RNA, and years on ART.
Conclusions: In this cohort of persons on long-term suppressive ART, current statin use was not associated with lower levels of HIV persistence or immune activation/inflammation. These results do not support a major role for statins in reducing HIV persistence, although an early transient effect cannot be excluded. Prospective, randomized studies are needed to confirm these findings.