Objective: To evaluate the immunological and virological efficacy of triple combination therapy with zidovudine (ZDV) plus zalcitabine (ddC) plus lamivudine (3TC) and a double (ZDV+3TC) combination therapy in patients previously treated with ZDV plus ddC.
Design: A 6-month follow-up open-label randomized study was undertaken in 46 HIV-1-infected patients previously treated for at least 6 months with ZDV plus ddC, who were allocated to receive either ZDV/ddC/3TC (n = 15) or ZDV/3TC (n = 15) or to continue with the ZDV/ddC regimen (control group; n = 16).
Methods: Changes in CD4+ cell counts and plasma viral load (VL) were analysed with analysis of variance. Sequencing of the reverse transcriptase gene was performed in a subset of 3TC-treated patients.
Results: Mean CD4+ cell counts increased significantly above baseline in both 3TC regimens whereas counts decreased in the control group. Significant plasma VL reduction was achieved in both 3TC combination therapy groups at weeks 4 and 24 compared with the control group. Coexistence of mutations conferring resistance to ZDV and 3TC were found in patients from both 3TC treatment groups.
Conclusions: Both therapy strategies, switching ddC to 3TC or adding 3TC, significantly improved the virological and immunological efficacy compared with continuing ZDV/ddC. Our results support the use of 3TC in patients previously treated with the ZDV/ddC combination.