Objective: To examine the association between timing of antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation in HIV-infected women and placental histopathology.
Design: A nested substudy in a larger cohort of HIV-infected women which examined the association between ART status and birth outcomes.
Methods: Placentas (n = 130) were examined for histopathology from two ART groups: stable (n = 53), who initiated ART before conception and initiating (n = 77), who started ART during pregnancy [median (interquartile range) 15 weeks gestation (11-18)]. Using binomial regression we quantified associations between ART initiation timing with placental histopathology and pregnancy outcomes.
Results: One-third of all placentas were less than 10th percentile weight-for-gestation and there was no significant difference between ART groups. Placental diameter, thickness, cord insertion position and foetal-placental weight ratio were also similar by group. However, placentas from the stable group showed increased maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM) (39.6 vs. 19.4%), and decreased weight (392 vs. 422 g, P = 0.09). MVM risk was twice as high [risk ratios 2.03 (95% confidence interval: 1.16-3.57); P = 0.01] in the stable group; the increased risk remaining significant when adjusting for maternal age [risk ratios 2.04 (95% confidence interval: 1.12-3.72); P = 0.02]. Furthermore, MVM was significantly associated with preterm delivery and low birth weight (P = 0.002 and <0.0001, respectively).
Conclusion: Preconception initiation of ART was associated with an increased MVM risk, and may contribute to placental dysfunction. The association between MVM with preterm delivery and low birth weight suggests that a placenta-mediated mechanism likely links the putative association between long-term use of ART and adverse birth outcomes.
Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.