Timing of Antiretroviral Therapy after Diagnosis of Cryptococcal Meningitis

New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 06/2014; 370(26):2487-98. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1312884


Cryptococcal meningitis accounts for 20 to 25% of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related deaths in Africa. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is essential for survival; however, the question of when ART should be initiated after diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis remains unanswered.
We assessed survival at 26 weeks among 177 human immunodeficiency virus-infected adults in Uganda and South Africa who had cryptococcal meningitis and had not previously received ART. We randomly assigned study participants to undergo either earlier ART initiation (1 to 2 weeks after diagnosis) or deferred ART initiation (5 weeks after diagnosis). Participants received amphotericin B (0.7 to 1.0 mg per kilogram of body weight per day) and fluconazole (800 mg per day) for 14 days, followed by consolidation therapy with fluconazole.
The 26-week mortality with earlier ART initiation was significantly higher than with deferred ART initiation (45% [40 of 88 patients] vs. 30% [27 of 89 patients]; hazard ratio for death, 1.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 2.82; P=0.03). The excess deaths associated with earlier ART initiation occurred 2 to 5 weeks after diagnosis (P=0.007 for the comparison between groups); mortality was similar in the two groups thereafter. Among patients with few white cells in their cerebrospinal fluid (<5 per cubic millimeter) at randomization, mortality was particularly elevated with earlier ART as compared with deferred ART (hazard ratio, 3.87; 95% CI, 1.41 to 10.58; P=0.008). The incidence of recognized cryptococcal immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome did not differ significantly between the earlier-ART group and the deferred-ART group (20% and 13%, respectively; P=0.32). All other clinical, immunologic, virologic, and microbiologic outcomes, as well as adverse events, were similar between the groups.
Deferring ART for 5 weeks after the diagnosis of cryptococcal meningitis was associated with significantly improved survival, as compared with initiating ART at 1 to 2 weeks, especially among patients with a paucity of white cells in cerebrospinal fluid. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; COAT number, NCT01075152.).

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Available from: Friedrich Thienemann, Jul 22, 2014
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    • "The first cohort included sequential persons presenting with suspected meningitis to Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda during the Cryptococcal Optimal ART Timing (COAT) trial ( NCT01075152) [15]. The second cohort was among those who attended the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) outpatient HIV clinic between November 2011 and May 2013 as a sub-study of the Operational Research for Cryptococcal Antigen Screening (ORCAS) trial ( "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Cryptococcal meningitis can best be diagnosed by cerebrospinal fluid India ink microscopy, cryptococcal antigen detection, or culture. These require invasive lumbar punctures. The utility of cryptococcal antigen detection in saliva is unknown. We evaluated the diagnostic performance of the point-of-care cryptococcal antigen lateral flow assay (CrAg LFA) in saliva. Methods We screened HIV-infected, antiretroviral therapy naïve persons with symptomatic meningitis (n = 130) and asymptomatic persons with CD4+<100 cells/µL entering into HIV care (n = 399) in Kampala, Uganda. The diagnostic performance of testing saliva was compared to serum/plasma cryptococcal antigen as the reference standard. Results The saliva lateral flow assay performance was overall more sensitive in symptomatic patients (88%) than in asymptomatic patients (27%). The specificity of saliva lateral flow assay was excellent at 97.8% in the symptomatic patients and 100% in asymptomatic patients. The degree of accuracy of saliva in diagnosing cryptococcosis and the level of agreement between the two sample types was better in symptomatic patients (C-statistic 92.9, κ-0.82) than in asymptomatic patients (C-statistic 63.5, κ-0.41). Persons with false negative salvia CrAg tests had lower levels of peripheral blood CrAg titers (P<0.001). Conclusion There was poor diagnostic performance in testing saliva for cryptococcal antigen, particularly among asymptomatic persons screened for preemptive treatment of cryptococcosis.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Amphotericin B is the preferred treatment for cryptococcal meningitis, but it has cumulative severe side effects, including nephrotoxicity, hypokalemia, and hypomagnesemia. Amphotericin-induced severe hypokalemia may predispose the patient to cardiac arrhythmias and death, and there is very little data available regarding these toxicities in resource-limited settings. We hypothesized that standardized electrolyte management during amphotericin therapy is essential to minimize toxicity and optimize survival in sub-Saharan Africa. Human immunodeficiency virus-infected, antiretroviral therapy naive adults with cryptococcal meningitis were prospectively enrolled at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda in 3 sequential cohorts with amphotericin B deoxycholate induction treatment. Intravenous fluid use was intermittent in 2001-2002, and universal in 2006-2012. In 2001-2009, serum potassium (K(+)) was monitored on days 1, 7, and 14 of treatment with replacement (K(+), Mg(2+)) per clinician discretion. In 2011-2012, K(+) was measured on days 1, 5, and approximately every 48 hours thereafter with universal electrolyte (K(+), Mg(2+)) supplementation and standardized replacement. Clinical outcomes were retrospectively compared between fluid and electrolyte management strategies. With limited intravenous fluids, the 14-day survival was 49% in 2001-2002. With universal intravenous fluids, the 30-day survival improved to 62% in 2006-2010 (P = .003). In 2011-2012, with universal supplementation of fluids and electrolytes, 30-day cumulative survival improved to 78% (P = .021 vs 2006-2010 cohort). The cumulative incidence of severe hypokalemia (<2.5 mEq/L) decreased from 38% in 2010 to 8.5% in 2011-2012 with universal supplementation (P < .001). Improved survival was seen in a resource-limited setting with proactive fluid and electrolyte management (K(+), Mg(2+)), as part of comprehensive amphotericin-based cryptococcal therapy.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Open Forum Infectious Diseases
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    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE: New data and antiretroviral regimens expand treatment choices in resource-rich settings and warrant an update of recommendations to treat adults infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). OBJECTIVE: To provide updated treatment recommendations for adults with HIV, emphasizing when to start treatment; what treatment to start; the use of laboratory monitoring tools; and managing treatment failure, switches, and simplification. DATA SOURCES, STUDY SELECTION, AND DATA SYNTHESIS: An International Antiviral Society-USA panel of experts in HIV research and patient care considered previous data and reviewed new data since the 2012 update with literature searches in PubMed and EMBASE through June 2014. Recommendations and ratings were based on the quality of evidence and consensus. RESULTS: Antiretroviral therapy is recommended for all adults with HIV infection. Evidence for benefits of treatment and quality of available data increase at lower CD4 cell counts. Recommended initial regimens include 2 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs; abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) and a third single or boosted drug, which should be an integrase strand transfer inhibitor (dolutegravir, elvitegravir, or raltegravir), a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (efavirenz or rilpivirine) or a boosted protease inhibitor (darunavir or atazanavir). Alternative regimens are available. Boosted protease inhibitor monotherapy is generally not recommended, but NRTI-sparing approaches may be considered. New guidance for optimal timing of monitoring of laboratory parameters is provided. Suspected treatment failure warrants rapid confirmation, performance of resistance testing while the patient is receiving the failing regimen, and evaluation of reasons for failure before consideration of switching therapy. Regimen switches for adverse effects, convenience, or to reduce costs should not jeopardize antiretroviral potency. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: After confirmed diagnosis of HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy should be initiated in all individuals who are willing and ready to start treatment. Regimens should be selected or changed based on resistance test results with consideration of dosing frequency, pill burden, adverse toxic effect profiles, comorbidities, and drug interactions.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association
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