BACKGROUND - Higher body mass index (BMI) was associated with slower human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression before the availability of effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), but the relationship between pretreatment BMI and CD4(+) lymphocyte recovery on ART is not well described.
METHODS - We conducted an observational cohort study of HIV-infected, ART-naive adults starting treatment at a clinic affiliated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. We assessed the relationship between pretreatment BMI and CD4(+) lymphocyte count change from baseline to 12 months in all subjects, among those with plasma HIV-1 RNA levels <400 copies/mL for ≥ 6 months and those with <10% change in weight during follow-up. Linear regression models were adjusted for age, sex, race, protease inhibitor usage, year of ART initiation, and baseline CD4(+) lymphocyte count and HIV-1 RNA level.
RESULTS - A total of 915 patients met inclusion criteria; 78% were male, and their median age, BMI, and CD4(+) lymphocyte count were 39 years, 24 kg/m², and 171 cells/μL, respectively. The CD4(+) lymphocyte increase at 12 months was greatest among patients with a pretreatment BMI of ~25-30 kg/m² and diminished above and below this range (P = .03). Similar patterns were observed in the subgroup analyses. Among patients with a pretreatment CD4(+) lymphocyte count < 200 cells/μL, a BMI of ~25 kg/m² was associated with the highest odds of reaching a CD4(+) lymphocyte count > 350 cells/μL at 12 months (P = .05).
CONCLUSIONS - 12-month immune reconstitution on ART was highest among patients commonly classified as overweight, suggesting there may be an optimal BMI range for immune recovery on ART.