Hepatic and renal toxicity and associated factors among HIV-infected children on antiretroviral therapy: a prospective cohort study

B. T. Tadesse, B. A. Foster, A. Kabeta, F. Ayalew, G. H/Meskel, D. Jerene, E. Makonnen, E. Aklillu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of renal function and liver enzyme abnormalities among HIV-infected children, changes in prevalence with time on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and the factors associated with these abnormalities. Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted among HIV-infected children < 18 years old (n = 705) who were on first-line cART. Liver enzymes, renal function, haematology, immunology and virological response were assessed at enrolment and followed bi-annually for 18 months. Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis were assessed using noninvasive markers including the aspartate aminotransferase (AST) to platelet ratio index (APRI) and fibrosis score (FIB-4). Results: The median age was 12 [interquartile range (IQR) 8–14] years; 53.3% of patients were male. At enrolment, the median cART duration was 3.3 (IQR 1.1–6.1) years; 177 (25.1%) and 83 (11.8%) patients had elevated AST and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), respectively. A tenth of the children had an APRI score > 0.5, suggesting liver fibrosis. Being on a zidovudine (ZDV)- or nevirapine (NVP)-based regimen and having a viral load > 1000 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL were significantly associated with elevated ALT. Twenty-four (3.4%) and 84 (12.1%) patients had elevated creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), respectively. As cART duration increased by 6 months, median BUN increased by 1.6 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4–2.7] mg/dL (P = 0.01); the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decreased by 35.6 (95% CI 17.7–53.4) mL/min/1.73 m2 (P < 0.0001); and AST and ALT decreased by 1.4 (95% CI 0.4–2.5) IU/L (P = 0.01) and 1.4 (95% CI 0.2–2.6) IU/L (P = 0.01), respectively. Conclusions: A high prevalence of liver enzyme and renal function abnormalities was observed at enrolment. Decreasing liver enzyme levels during follow-up are possibly reassuring, while the progressive reduction in GFR and the increase in BUN are worrisome and require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • HIV infection
  • children and adolescents
  • combination antiretroviral therapy
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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