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Open Access Research

The development of simple anthropometric measures to diagnose antiretroviral therapy-associated lipodystrophy in resource limited settings

Zulfa Abrahams1, Joel A Dave1, Gary Maartens2, Maia Lesosky3 and Naomi S Levitt1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Diabetic Medicine and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

2 Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

3 Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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AIDS Research and Therapy 2014, 11:26  doi:10.1186/1742-6405-11-26

Published: 4 August 2014

Abstract

Background

Lipohypertrophy does not appear to be an adverse ART reaction while lipoatrophy is clearly associated with the use of stavudine (d4T) and zidovudine (AZT). In low and middle income countries d4T has only recently been phased out and AZT is still widely being used. Several case definitions have been developed to diagnose lipodystrophy, but none of them are generalizable to sub-Saharan Africa where black women have less visceral adipose tissue and more subcutaneous adipose tissue than white women. We aimed to develop a simple, objective measure to define lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy by comparing patient report to anthropometric and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) -derived variables.

Methods

DXA and anthropometric measures were obtained in a cross sectional sample of black HIV-infected South African men (n = 116) and women (n = 434) on ART. Self-reported information on fat gain or fat loss was collected using a standard questionnaire. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to describe the performance of anthropometric and DXA-derived variables using patient reported lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy as the reference standard.

Results

Lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy were more common in women (25% and 33% respectively) than in men (10% and 13% respectively). There were insufficient numbers of men with DXA scans for meaningful analysis. The best predictors of lipoatrophy in women were the anthropometric variables tricep (AUC = 0.725) and thigh skinfold (AUC =0.720) thicknesses; and the DXA-derived variables percentage lower limb fat (AUC = 0.705) and percentage lower limb fat/height (AUC = 0.713). The best predictors of lipohypertrophy in women were the anthropometric variable waist/hip ratio (AUC = 0.645) and the DXA-derived variable percentage trunk fat/percentage limb fat (AUC = 0.647).

Conclusions

We were able to develop simple, anthropometric measures for defining lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy, using a sample of black HIV-infected South African women with DXA scans. This is of particular relevance in resource limited settings, where health professionals need simple and inexpensive methods of diagnosing patients with lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy.

Keywords:
HIV; Lipoatrophy; Lipohypertrophy; Lipodystrophy; DXA; Anthropometry; Sub-Saharan africa; Antiretroviral therapy