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Int J Med Sci. 2012;9(5):397-405. doi: 10.7150/ijms.4441. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Effects of antiretroviral therapy on autonomic function in early HIV infection: a preliminary report.

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John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), University of Hawaii, HI, USA.



A prospective study was conducted in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients as they undergo alterations in their antiretroviral therapy (ART) to determine the effect of ART on autonomic function.


HIV-infected subjects who were either 1) naïve to ART and initiating ART, or 2) receiving ART and in HIV virologic failure for at least 4 months and were about to switch ART were enrolled in this study. Autonomic function assessment (cardiovagal, adrenergic, and sudomotor tests) was performed prior to and 4 months after initiating the new ART. Changes in clinical autonomic symptoms and virologic assessment were assessed.


Twelve subjects completed the study: 92% male; median age (Q1, Q3) was 41.0 (28.0, 48.2) years; and 50% White/Non-Hispanic. Seventy-five percent were ART naïve while 25% were failing their ART regimen. The median CD4 count was 336.5 (245.3, 372.3) cells/mm(3). All subjects achieved an undetectable HIV viral load by the 4-month follow-up visit. The majority of naïve subjects were started on an ART regimen of tenofovir / emtricitabine / efavirenz. There were no significant differences in autonomic function assessment, as measured by cardiovagal, adrenergic, and sudomotor tests, with regards to ART initiation.


This is the first study to examine the effects of initiating ART on autonomic function in early HIV infection. This study found no appreciable differences of ART on the autonomic nervous system when ART is initiated early in the course of HIV disease. ART may not contribute to short-term changes in autonomic function.


Antiretroviral Therapy; Autonomic Function.; HIV

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