Open Access Open Badges Research article

Early changes in inflammatory and pro-thrombotic biomarkers in patients initiating antiretroviral therapy with abacavir or tenofovir

Authors: Sergio Padilla1, Mar Masiá1, Natalia García2, Inmaculada Jarrin3, Consuelo Tormo2 and Félix Gutiérrez1*

Author Affiliations

1 Infectious Diseases Unit, Hospital General Universitario de Elche, Department of Clinical Medicine, University Miguel Hernández, Elche, Alicante, Spain

2 Biochemistry Section, Hospital General Universitario de Elche, Elche, Alicante, Spain

3 National Center of Epidemiology, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-40

Published: 4 February 2011



Abacavir has been associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction, but the pathogenic mechanisms remain unknown. We evaluated longitudinal changes in pro-atherosclerotic biomarkers in patients initiating abacavir or tenofovir.


Consecutive patients initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) with abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir/emtricitabine were included. Plasma levels of high sensitivity C reactive protein (hsCRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) were measured at baseline and at different time points throughout 48 weeks. Comparisons were adjusted for age, sex, ART status at inclusion, viral load, lipodystrophy, Framingham score and hepatitis C virus co-infection status.


50 patients were analyzed, 28 initiating abacavir and 22 tenofovir. The endothelial biomarker sVCAM-1 declined significantly in both treatment groups. hsCRP tended to increase soon after starting therapy with abacavir, a trend that was not seen in those initiating tenofovir. IL-6 significantly increased only at week 24 from baseline in patients on abacavir (+225%, p < 0.01) although the differences were not significant between groups. The procoagulant biomarker PAI-1 plasma levels increased from baseline at week 12 (+57%; p = 0.017), week 24 (+72%; p = 0.008), and week 48 (+149%; p < 0.001) in patients on tenofovir, but differences between groups were not statistically significant.


Changes in biomarkers of inflammation, coagulation, and endothelial function are not different in viremic patients starting ART with abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir/emtricitabine. These changes occur in the early phases of treatment and include anti- and pro-atherosclerotic effects with both drugs.