Atorvastatin reduces T-cell activation and exhaustion among HIV-infected cART-treated suboptimal immune responders in Uganda: a randomised crossover placebo-controlled trial

Publication Date: 
Friday, March 20, 2015
Nakanjako D, Ssinabulya I, Nabatanzi R, Bayigga L, Kiragga A, Joloba M, Kaleebu P, Kambugu AD, Kamya MR, Sekaly R, Elliott A, Mayanja-Kizza H

T-cell activation independently predicts mortality, poor immune recovery and non-AIDS illnesses during combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Atorvastatin showed anti-immune activation effects among HIV-infected cART-naïve individuals. We investigated whether adjunct atorvastatin therapy reduces T-cell activation among cART-treated adults with suboptimal immune recovery.

A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial, of atorvastatin 80 mg daily vs. placebo for 12 weeks, was conducted among individuals with CD4 increase <295 cells/μl after seven years of suppressive cART. Change in T-cell activation (CD3 + CD4 + /CD8 + CD38 + HLADR+) and in T-cell exhaustion (CD3 + CD4 + /CD8 + PD1 + ) was measured using flow cytometry.

Thirty patients were randomised, 15 to each arm. Atorvastatin resulted in a 28% greater reduction in CD4 T-cell activation (60% reduction) than placebo (32% reduction); P = 0.001. Atorvastatin also resulted in a 35% greater reduction in CD8-T-cell activation than placebo (49% vs. 14%, P = 0.0009), CD4 T-cell exhaustion (27% vs. 17% in placebo), P = 0.001 and CD8 T-cell exhaustion (27% vs. 16%), P = 0.004. There was no carry-over/period effect. Expected adverse events were comparable in both groups, and no serious adverse events were reported.

Atorvastatin reduced T-cell immune activation and exhaustion among cART-treated adults in a Ugandan cohort. Atorvastatin adjunct therapy should be explored as a strategy to improve HIV treatment outcomes among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tropical Medicine & International Health