Bone Deleterious Effects of Different NRTIs in Treatment-naïve HIV Patients After 12 and 48 Weeks of Treatment

Curr HIV Res. 2021;19(5):434-447. doi: 10.2174/1570162X19666210805094434.


Background: Bone alterations have been observed in the course of HIV infection, characterized by a marked decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) and an increase in the frequency of fractures as a result of fragility. We aim to evaluate early changes in bone metabolic profile and the possible association with tenofovir and other nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) in treatment-naïve HIV patients.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study in naïve HIV-infected adults (under 50 years), separated into three groups according to NRTI therapy: tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF); tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) and abacavir (ABC). BMD and epidemiological, immunological and metabolic bone parameters were evaluated. Bone markers were analyzed in plasma at baseline, 12 and 48 weeks after initiating treatment.

Results: Average age of patients was 34.8 years (± 9.6). 92.4% of them with CD4 count > 200 cel/μL. At week 12 after starting treatment, both TDF [increase in PN1P (31.7%, p = 0.004), TRAP (11.1%, p = 0.003), OPN (19.3%, p = 0.045) and OC (38.6%, p = 0.001); decrease in OPG (-23.4%, p = 0.003)] and TAF [increase in 42.6% for CTX (p = 0.011), 27.3% for OC (p = 0.001) and 21% for TRAP (p = 0.008); decrease in OPG (-28.8%, p = 0.049)] presented a deep resorption profile compared to ABC, these differences in bone molecular markers, a tendency to equalize at week 48, where no significant differences were observed. Patients treated with TDF showed the greatest decrease in Z-score in both lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN) at week 48 without statistically significant differences.

Conclusion: Treatment-naïve HIV patients have a high prevalence of low bone density. Treatment with TDF is associated with greater bone deterioration at 12 and 48 weeks. TAF seems to present similar early bone deterioration at 12 weeks which disappears at 48 weeks.

Keywords: HIV; abacavir; bone markers.; osteopenia; osteoporosis; tenofovir.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / adverse effects
  • Bone Density
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Nucleotides
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Tenofovir / adverse effects


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Nucleotides
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Tenofovir