Changes in hematologic parameters and efficacy of thymidine analogue-based, highly active antiretroviral therapy

a meta-analysis of six prospective, randomized, comparative studies

Graeme Moyle*, Will Sawyer, Matthew Law, Janaki Amin, Andrew Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

74 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hematologic changes that occur with HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy may impact the quality of life of patients and have been associated with morbidity and mortality. The management of anemia and neutropenia has improved survival in persons with HIV. Objectives: This meta-analysis was performed to assess the changes in hemoglobin (Hb) levels and neutrophil counts that occur during thymidme analogue-based triple therapy and to establish whether different regimens of triple therapy are similar in efficacy based on CD4+ T-cell count and viral load changes. Methods: This was a meta-analysis of the impact of zidovudine (AZT) compared with stavudine (d4T) in triple therapy regimens in HIV patients with regard to hematologic parameters and efficacy markers. The peer-reviewed literature was searched with use of MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews (key terms: HIV, antiretroviral therapy, CD4, viral load, three, triple, and highly active antiretroviral therapy [HAART]). Searches were initially not limited by publication type, study design, date, or language but subsequently were sorted to include only studies performed in treatment-naive adult patients; randomized; and comparative of a regimen that included d4T with a regimen that included AZT; to involve regimens that included a minimum of 3 drugs each; and to include hematologic outcomes data. Outcomes were CD4 +, viral load, and hematologic parameters. Results: This meta-analysis included 6 studies. Treatment efficacy as measured by changes in CD4+ T-cell counts and viral load did not differ significantly between regimens. Hb levels decreased with AZT treatment by a mean (SE) 0.4 (0.05) g/dL and 0.2 (0.06) g/dL at weeks 24 and 48, respectively, but increased with d4T treatment by 0.45 (0.03) g/dL and 0.58 (0.04) g/dL, respectively. All grades of anemia and neutropenia events were consistently more common with AZT-based regimens relative to d4T-based therapy. Conclusions: AZT-based HAART has a greater negative impact on hematologic parameters relative to d4T-based regimens. AZT recipients are more likely than d4T recipients to experience anemia and neutropenia events of any grade, and AZT is associated with a net decrease in Hb level relative to a net increase with d4T. These factors may influence the choice of drug used in the treatment of certain patient populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-97
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anemia
  • Antiretrovirals
  • Hemoglobin
  • HIV
  • Neutropenia
  • Stavudine
  • Zidovudine

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