1Metabolism Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
2National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
3Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
4Liver Center, Gastroenterology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
5Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects more than one-third of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Nonetheless, its natural history is poorly understood, including which patients are most likely to have a progressive disease course.
Methods: We leveraged a randomized trial of the growth hormone-releasing hormone analogue tesamorelin to treat NAFLD in HIV. Sixty-one participants with HIV-associated NAFLD were randomized to tesamorelin or placebo for 12 months with serial biopsies.
Results: In all participants with baseline biopsies (n = 58), 43% had hepatic fibrosis. Individuals with fibrosis had higher NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) (mean ± standard deviation [SD], 3.6 ± 2.0 vs 2.0 ± 0.8; P < .0001) and visceral fat content (mean ± SD, 284 ± 91 cm2 vs 212 ± 95 cm2; P = .005), but no difference in hepatic fat or body mass index. Among placebo-treated participants with paired biopsies (n = 24), 38% had hepatic fibrosis progression over 12 months. For each 25 cm2 higher visceral fat at baseline, odds of fibrosis progression increased by 37% (odds ratio, 1.37 [95% confidence interval, 1.03-2.07]). There was no difference in baseline NAS between fibrosis progressors and nonprogressors, though NAS rose over time in the progressor group (mean ± SD, 1.1 ± 0.8 vs -0.5 ± 0.6; P < .0001).
Conclusions: In this longitudinal study of HIV-associated NAFLD, high rates of hepatic fibrosis and progression were observed. Visceral adiposity was identified as a novel predictor of worsening fibrosis. In contrast, baseline histologic characteristics did not relate to fibrosis progression.