To determine whether nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) contribute to an accelerated loss in telomere length (TL) in HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Substudy of randomised controlled trial.
Patients with HIV RNA <50 copies/mL on combination ART (n = 256) were randomised to darunavir/ritonavir (DRV/r) 800/100 mg once daily, either as monotherapy (n = 127) or with 2 NRTIs (n = 129) for up to 144 weeks. TL and telomerase activity was quantified on stored peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC; n = 124) using quantitative real time PCR.
Patients in the sub-study had a mean age of 44 years and had received NRTI for a mean of 6.4 years (range 1-20 years). As expected, older patients have significantly shorter TL (p = 0.006), while women had significantly longer TL (p = 0.026). There was no significant association between TL and either the duration of prior NRTI treatment (p = 0.894) or the use of a PI versus NNRTI (p = 0.107). There was no significant difference between patients who continued or ceased NRTI in the mean change/year of TL or telomerase (p = 0.580 and 0.280 respectively).
Continuation versus cessation of NRTI treatment was not associated with an accelerated loss in TL or telomerase activity.