Collier AC, Chun TW, Maenza J, Coombs RW, Tapia K, Chang M, Stevens CE, Justement JS, Murray D, Stekler JD, Mullins JI, Holte SE (2016). A Pilot Study of Raltegravir Plus Combination Antiretroviral Therapy in Early Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection: Challenges and Lessons Learned. BioResearch open access, 5(1), 15-21. (pubmed) (doi)
Availability of integrase strand transfer inhibitors created interest in determining whether their use would decrease persistently infected cell numbers. This study hypothesized that adding raltegravir (RAL) to standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) would decrease human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected CD4(+) T cells more than standard combination ART. This was a pilot, randomized study comparing open-label standard triple ART to standard triple ART plus RAL over 96 weeks in ART-naive adults with early HIV infection. The primary objective was to compare quantity and trajectory of HIV DNA. Eighty-two persons were referred. A diverse set of reasons precluded the enrollment of all but 10. Those who enrolled and completed the study had an estimated median duration of HIV infection of 74 days at ART start. The groups had similar baseline characteristics. The RAL group had more rapid first phase plasma HIV RNA decay (0.67 log10 copies/mL/day) than with combination ART (0.34 log10copies/mL/day), p = 0.037. Second phase HIV RNA decay, residual viremia, cell-associated RNA, HIV DNA, CD4(+) T-cells with replication-competent virus, and 2LTR circle levels did not differ between groups. Among those with entry plasma HIV RNA levels above the median, 2LTR circles were significantly lower over time than in those with lower entry HIV RNA levels (p = 0.02). Our results suggest homogeneity of responses in cell-associated RNA, HIV DNA, CD4(+) T-cells with replication-competent virus, and 2LTR circles with early HIV in both ART groups. The kinetics of 2LTR DNA did not reflect the kinetics of plasma HIV RNA decline following ART initiation.