Increase in body cell mass and decrease in wasting are associated with increasing potency of antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • HIV Infections
  • Quality of Life


  • With the advent of potent combination antiretroviral therapy (ART), there has been a reduction in the incidence of wasting. However, few studies have investigated specific body composition changes associated with these treatments. This study aimed to investigate longitudinally the association of increasingly potent ART with changes in body cell mass and wasting utilizing bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA). In this longitudinal cohort study, 159 HIV-positive men were assessed semiannually from 1995 to 1997 for body composition utilizing BIA, CD4 lymphocyte count, HIV viral load, medical and depressive symptoms. Wasting was defined as body cell mass/height below the 90th percentile based on HIV positive norms. ART potency at each visit was scored utilizing published clinical guidelines, ranging from 1 (0-1 antiretrovirals) to 5 (3 or more antiretrovirals including a potent protease inhibitor). Viral resistance testing was not used. The mixed-effects model and the generalized estimating equations approaches were used to determine longitudinal correlates of body cell mass and of wasting, respectively. Over the 2 years of follow-up, potent combination ART use increased from 6% to 79%. Concurrently, a significant increase in mean body cell mass and a reduction in prevalence of wasting were seen, while total body weight, fat mass, and total body water did not change. Increasingly potent ART was associated with significant increases in body cell mass and reduction in wasting. Other significant correlates of increased body cell mass included higher CD4 count and decreased severity of HIV-related symptoms, fatigue and depression. The current study found that higher potency ART taken for relatively short term (2 years) was associated with an increase in body cell mass and a reduction in wasting and that these changes were associated with both medical (CD4, HIV symptoms) and behavioral (fatigue, depression) improvements. One caveat is this study did not distinguish among types of potent ART regimens. Given only some antiretrovirals appear linked to many body composition changes, regardless of their effect on viral load, it may be the type of regimen used that accounted for the relationship seen between viral load and body composition changes.

publication date

  • April 2005



  • Academic Article



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/apc.2005.19.216

PubMed ID

  • 15857193

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 216

end page

  • 23


  • 19


  • 4