Most Recent Papers

Pitavastatin to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease in HIV Infection

Grinspoon SK, Fitch KV, Zanni MV, Fichtenbaum CJ, Umbleja T, Aberg JA, Overton ET, Malvestutto CD, Bloomfield GS, Currier JS, Martinez E, Roa JC, Diggs MR, Fulda ES, Paradis K, Wiviott SD, Foldyna B, Looby SE, Desvigne-Nickens P, Alston-Smith B, Leon-Cruz J, McCallum S, Hoffmann U, Lu MT, Ribaudo HJ, Douglas PS; REPRIEVE Investigators.

N Engl J Med. 2023 Aug 24;389(8):687-699. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2304146. Epub 2023 Jul 23.PMID: 37486775 Clinical Trial.


Background: The risk of cardiovascular disease is increased among persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, so data regarding primary prevention strategies in this population are needed.

Methods: In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 7769 participants with HIV infection with a low-to-moderate risk of cardiovascular disease who were receiving antiretroviral therapy to receive daily pitavastatin calcium (at a dose of 4 mg) or placebo. The primary outcome was the occurrence of a major adverse cardiovascular event, which was defined as a composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, hospitalization for unstable angina, stroke, transient ischemic attack, peripheral arterial ischemia, revascularization, or death from an undetermined cause.

Results: The median age of the participants was 50 years (interquartile range, 45 to 55); the median CD4 count was 621 cells per cubic millimeter (interquartile range, 448 to 827), and the HIV RNA value was below quantification in 5250 of 5997 participants (87.5%) with available data. The trial was stopped early for efficacy after a median follow-up of 5.1 years (interquartile range, 4.3 to 5.9). The incidence of a major adverse cardiovascular event was 4.81 per 1000 person-years in the pitavastatin group and 7.32 per 1000 person-years in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.48 to 0.90; P = 0.002). Muscle-related symptoms occurred in 91 participants (2.3%) in the pitavastatin group and in 53 (1.4%) in the placebo group; diabetes mellitus occurred in 206 participants (5.3%) and in 155 (4.0%), respectively.

Conclusions: Participants with HIV infection who received pitavastatin had a lower risk of a major adverse cardiovascular event than those who received placebo over a median follow-up of 5.1 years. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; REPRIEVE number, NCT02344290.).

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A Women's health perspective on managing obesity

Johnson VR, Anekwe CV, Washington TB, Chhabria S, Tu L, Stanford FC.

Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2023 May-Jun;78:11-16. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2023.04.007. Epub 2023 Apr 27.PMID: 37120120 Review.


While the prevalence of obesity in US men and women is nearly equivalent, obesity management in women requires a different approach that considers age and life stage in development including sexual maturation/reproduction, menopause and post-menopause. In this review, the diagnosis and treatment of obesity using lifestyle modification, pharmacotherapy and metabolic and bariatric surgery are discussed from a women's health perspective, with emphasis on management during pregnancy and post-partum.

Keywords: Gender/sex; Management; Obesity; women's health.

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Growth hormone and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Ma IL, Stanley TL.

Immunometabolism (Cobham). 2023 Jul 27;5(3):e00030. doi: 10.1097/IN9.0000000000000030. eCollection 2023 Jul.PMID: 37520312 Free PMC article. Review.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a prevalent cause of liver disease and metabolic comorbidities. Obesity is strongly associated with NAFLD and is also a state of relative deficiency of growth hormone (GH). Evidence supports a role of reduced GH and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in NAFLD pathogenesis. Physiological actions of GH in the liver include suppression of de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and promotion of lipid beta-oxidation, and GH also appears to have anti-inflammatory actions. Physiologic actions of IGF-1 include suppression of inflammatory and fibrogenic pathways important in the evolution from steatosis to steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Rodent models of impaired hepatic GH signaling show the development of steatosis, sometimes accompanied by inflammation, hepatocellular damage, and fibrosis, and these changes are ameliorated by treatment with GH and/or IGF-1. In humans, individuals with GH deficiency and GH resistance demonstrate an increased prevalence of NAFLD compared to controls, with improvement in hepatic lipid, steatohepatitis, and fibrosis following GH replacement. As a corollary, individuals with GH excess demonstrate lower hepatic lipid compared to controls along with increased hepatic lipid following treatment to normalize GH levels. Clinical trials demonstrate that augmentation of GH reduces hepatic lipid content in individuals with NAFLD and may also ameliorate steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Taken together, evidence supports an important role for perturbations in the GH/IGF-1 axis as one of the pathogenic mechanisms of NAFLD and suggests that further study is needed to assess whether augmentation of GH and/or IGF-1 may be a safe and effective therapeutic strategy for NAFLD.

Keywords: growth hormone; insulin-like growth factor-1; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; releasing hormone.

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Implementing LGBTQ-inclusive policies for cardiology practice and the workforce

Poteat T, Toribio M.

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2023 Jun;20(6):365-366. doi: 10.1038/s41569-023-00870-6.PMID: 37002416

No abstract available.

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Accelerated Longitudinal Weight Gain Among Infants With In Utero COVID-19 Exposure

Ockene MW, Russo SC, Lee H, Monthé-Drèze C, Stanley TL, Ma IL, Toribio M, Shook LL, Grinspoon SK, Edlow AG, Fourman LT.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2023 Sep 18;108(10):2579-2588. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgad130.
PMID: 36988326


Context: Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel population of children with in utero exposure to maternal infection has emerged whose health outcomes are largely unknown.

Objective: To compare longitudinal growth trajectories among infants with vs without in utero COVID-19 exposure.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal cohort study leveraging a prospectively enrolled perinatal biorepository among 149 infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure and 127 unexposed controls. Weight, length, and body mass index (BMI) were abstracted from health records at 0, 2, 6, and 12 months and standardized using World Health Organization growth charts. Analyses were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity, parity, insurance, and BMI as well as infant sex, birthdate, and breastfeeding.

Results: Infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure vs controls exhibited differential trajectories of weight and BMI, but not length, z-score over the first year of life (study group × time interaction, P < .0001 for weight and BMI). Infants born to mothers with prenatal COVID-19 had lower BMI z-score at birth (effect size: -0.35, 95% CI -0.66 to -0.03) and greater gain in BMI z-score from birth to 12 months (effect size: 0.53, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.99). Birth weight z-score mediated a significant proportion of the relationship between COVID-19 exposure and postnatal growth (estimate ± SE, 32 ± 14%, P = .02).

Conclusion: Infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure exhibited lower birth weight and accelerated weight gain in the first year of life, which may be harbingers of downstream cardiometabolic pathology. Further studies are needed to delineate cardiometabolic sequelae among this emerging global population.

Keywords: BMI; COVID-19; fetal programming; growth; in utero.

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Most Cited Publications

Increased acute myocardial infarction rates and cardiovascular risk factors among patients with human immunodeficiency virus disease 

Triant VA, Lee H, Hadigan C, Grinspoon SK. Increased acute myocardial infarction rates and cardiovascular risk factors among patients with human immunodeficiency virus disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jul;92(7):2506-12. doi: 10.1210/jc.2006-2190. Epub 2007 Apr 24. PMID: 17456578; PMCID: PMC2763385.


Context: Metabolic changes and smoking are common among HIV patients and may confer increased cardiovascular risk.

Objective: The aim of the study was to determine acute myocardial infarction (AMI) rates and cardiovascular risk factors in HIV compared with non-HIV patients in two tertiary care hospitals.

Design, setting, and participants: We conducted a health care system-based cohort study using a large data registry with 3,851 HIV and 1,044,589 non-HIV patients. AMI rates were determined among patients receiving longitudinal care between October 1, 1996, and June 30, 2004.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was myocardial infarction, identified by International Classification of Diseases coding criteria.

Results: AMI was identified in 189 HIV and 26,142 non-HIV patients. AMI rates per 1000 person-years were increased in HIV vs. non-HIV patients [11.13 (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.58-12.68) vs. 6.98 (95% CI 6.89-7.06)]. The HIV cohort had significantly higher proportions of hypertension (21.2 vs. 15.9%), diabetes (11.5 vs. 6.6%), and dyslipidemia (23.3 vs. 17.6%) than the non-HIV cohort (P < 0.0001 for each comparison). The difference in AMI rates between HIV and non-HIV patients was significant, with a relative risk (RR) of 1.75 (95% CI 1.51-2.02; P < 0.0001), adjusting for age, gender, race, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. In gender-stratified models, the unadjusted AMI rates per 1000 person-years were higher for HIV patients among women (12.71 vs. 4.88 for HIV compared with non-HIV women), but not among men (10.48 vs. 11.44 for HIV compared with non-HIV men). The RRs (for HIV vs. non-HIV) were 2.98 (95% CI 2.33-3.75; P < 0.0001) for women and 1.40 (95% CI 1.16-1.67; P = 0.0003) for men, adjusting for age, gender, race, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. A limitation of this database is that it contains incomplete data on smoking. Smoking could not be included in the overall regression model, and some of the increased risk may be accounted for by differences in smoking rates.

Conclusions: AMI rates and cardiovascular risk factors were increased in HIV compared with non-HIV patients, particularly among women. Cardiac risk modification strategies are important for the long-term care of HIV patients.

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Adipose-derived circulating miRNAs regulate gene expression in other tissues 

Thomou T, Mori MA, Dreyfuss JM, Konishi M, Sakaguchi M, Wolfrum C, Rao TN, Winnay JN, Garcia-Martin R, Grinspoon SK, Gorden P, Kahn CR. Adipose-derived circulating miRNAs regulate gene expression in other tissues. Nature. 2017 Feb 23;542(7642):450-455. doi: 10.1038/nature21365. Epub 2017 Feb 15. Erratum in: Nature. 2017 May 10;545(7653):252. PMID: 28199304; PMCID: PMC5330251.


Adipose tissue is a major site of energy storage and has a role in the regulation of metabolism through the release of adipokines. Here we show that mice with an adipose-tissue-specific knockout of the microRNA (miRNA)-processing enzyme Dicer (ADicerKO), as well as humans with lipodystrophy, exhibit a substantial decrease in levels of circulating exosomal miRNAs. Transplantation of both white and brown adipose tissue-brown especially-into ADicerKO mice restores the level of numerous circulating miRNAs that are associated with an improvement in glucose tolerance and a reduction in hepatic Fgf21 mRNA and circulating FGF21. This gene regulation can be mimicked by the administration of normal, but not ADicerKO, serum exosomes. Expression of a human-specific miRNA in the brown adipose tissue of one mouse in vivo can also regulate its 3' UTR reporter in the liver of another mouse through serum exosomal transfer. Thus, adipose tissue constitutes an important source of circulating exosomal miRNAs, which can regulate gene expression in distant tissues and thereby serve as a previously undescribed form of adipokine.

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Soluble CD163, a novel marker of activated macrophages, is elevated and associated with noncalcified coronary plaque in HIV-infected patients 

Burdo TH, Lo J, Abbara S, Wei J, DeLelys ME, Preffer F, Rosenberg ES, Williams KC, Grinspoon S. Soluble CD163, a novel marker of activated macrophages, is elevated and associated with noncalcified coronary plaque in HIV-infected patients. J Infect Dis. 2011 Oct 15;204(8):1227-36. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir520. PMID: 21917896; PMCID: PMC3203384.


Background: Pro-inflammatory monocytes/macrophages may contribute to increased atherosclerosis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. We investigate--to our knowledge, for the first time--sCD163 and other markers of monocyte activation in relationship to atherosclerotic plaque in HIV-infected patients.

Methods: One hundred two HIV-infected and 41 HIV-seronegative men with equivalent cardiovascular risk factors and without history of coronary artery disease were prospectively recruited and underwent computed tomography coronary angiography.

Results: sCD163 levels and presence of plaque were significantly higher among antiretroviral-treated subjects with undetectable HIV RNA levels, compared with seronegative controls (1172 ± 646 vs. 883 ± 561 ng/mL [P = .02] for sCD163 and 61% vs. 39% [P = .03] for presence of plaque). After adjusting for age, race, lipids, blood pressure, glucose, smoking, sCD14, and HIV infection, sCD163 remained independently associated with noncalcified plaque (P = .008). Among HIV-infected patients, sCD163 was associated with coronary segments with noncalcified plaque (r = 0.21; P = .04), but not with calcium score. In contrast, markers of generalized inflammation, including C-reactive protein level, and D-dimer were not associated with sCD163 or plaque among HIV-infected patients.

Conclusions: sCD163, a monocyte/macrophage activation marker, is increased in association with noncalcified coronary plaque in men with chronic HIV infection and low or undetectable viremia. These data suggest a potentially important role of chronic monocyte/macrophage activation in the development of noncalcified vulnerable plaque.

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Arterial inflammation in patients with HIV 

Subramanian S, Tawakol A, Burdo TH, Abbara S, Wei J, Vijayakumar J, Corsini E, Abdelbaky A, Zanni MV, Hoffmann U, Williams KC, Lo JGrinspoon SK. Arterial inflammation in patients with HIV. JAMA. 2012 Jul 25;308(4):379-86. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.6698. PMID: 22820791; PMCID: PMC3724172.


Context: Cardiovascular disease is increased in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but the specific mechanisms are unknown.

Objective: To assess arterial wall inflammation in HIV, using 18fluorine-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET), in relationship to traditional and nontraditional risk markers, including soluble CD163 (sCD163), a marker of monocyte and macrophage activation.

Design, setting, and participants: A cross-sectional study of 81 participants investigated between November 2009 and July 2011 at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Twenty-seven participants with HIV without known cardiac disease underwent cardiac 18F-FDG-PET for assessment of arterial wall inflammation and coronary computed tomography scanning for coronary artery calcium. The HIV group was compared with 2 separate non-HIV control groups. One control group (n = 27) was matched to the HIV group for age, sex, and Framingham risk score (FRS) and had no known atherosclerotic disease (non-HIV FRS-matched controls). The second control group (n = 27) was matched on sex and selected based on the presence of known atherosclerotic disease (non-HIV atherosclerotic controls).

Main outcome measure: Arterial inflammation was prospectively determined as the ratio of FDG uptake in the arterial wall of the ascending aorta to venous background as the target-to-background ratio (TBR).

Results: Participants with HIV demonstrated well-controlled HIV disease (mean [SD] CD4 cell count, 641 [288] cells/μL; median [interquartile range] HIV-RNA level, <48 [<48 to <48] copies/mL). All were receiving antiretroviral therapy (mean [SD] duration, 12.3 [4.3] years). The mean FRS was low in both HIV and non-HIV FRS-matched control participants (6.4; 95% CI, 4.8-8.0 vs 6.6; 95% CI, 4.9-8.2; P = .87). Arterial inflammation in the aorta (aortic TBR) was higher in the HIV group vs the non-HIV FRS-matched control group (2.23; 95% CI, 2.07-2.40 vs 1.89; 95% CI, 1.80-1.97; P < .001), but was similar compared with the non-HIV atherosclerotic control group (2.23; 95% CI, 2.07-2.40 vs 2.13; 95% CI, 2.03-2.23; P = .29). Aortic TBR remained significantly higher in the HIV group vs the non-HIV FRS-matched control group after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors (P = .002) and in stratified analyses among participants with undetectable viral load, zero calcium, FRS of less than 10, a low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dL (<2.59 mmol/L), no statin use, and no smoking (all P ≤ .01). Aortic TBR was associated with sCD163 level (P = .04) but not with C-reactive protein (P = .65) or D-dimer (P = .08) among patients with HIV.

Conclusion: Participants infected with HIV vs noninfected control participants with similar cardiac risk factors had signs of increased arterial inflammation, which was associated with a circulating marker of monocyte and macrophage activation.

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Fracture prevalence among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected versus non-HIV-infected patients in a large U.S. healthcare system 

Triant VA, Brown TT, Lee H, Grinspoon SK. Fracture prevalence among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected versus non-HIV-infected patients in a large U.S. healthcare system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Sep;93(9):3499-504. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-0828. Epub 2008 Jul 1. PMID: 18593764; PMCID: PMC2567857.


Context: Reduced bone mineral density has been demonstrated among HIV-infected patients, but fracture prevalence is unknown.

Objective: The objective of the study was to compare fracture prevalence in HIV-infected and non-HIV-infected patients.

Design: This was a population-based study.

Setting: The study was conducted at a large U.S. health care system.

Patients: A total of 8525 HIV-infected and 2,208,792 non-HIV-infected patients with at least one inpatient or outpatient encounter between October 1, 1996, and March 21, 2008, was compared.

Main outcome measure: Fracture prevalence using specific International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification fracture codes was measured.

Results: The overall fracture prevalence was 2.87 vs. 1.77 patients with fractures per 100 persons in HIV-infected, compared with non-HIV-infected patients (P < 0.0001). Among females, the overall fracture prevalence was 2.49 vs. 1.72 per 100 persons in HIV-infected vs. non-HIV-infected patients (P = 0.002). HIV-infected females had a higher prevalence of vertebral (0.81 vs. 0.45; P = 0.01) and wrist (1.31 vs. 0.83; P = 0.01) fractures per 100 persons, compared with non-HIV-infected females but had a similar prevalence of hip fractures (0.47 vs. 0.56; P = 0.53). Among males, the fracture prevalence per 100 persons was higher in HIV-infected vs. non-HIV-infected patients for any fracture (3.08 vs. 1.83; P < 0.0001), vertebral fractures (1.03 vs. 0.49; P < 0.0001), hip fractures (0.79 vs. 0.45; P = 0.001), and wrist fractures (1.46 vs. 0.99; P = 0.001). Fracture prevalence was higher relative to non-HIV-infected patients among African-American and Caucasian females and Caucasian males.

Conclusions: Fracture prevalence is increased in HIV-infected compared with non-HIV-infected patients.

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GHRH or analogues thereof for use in treatment of hepatic disease

Patent Number: 10,799,562


The present application relates to novel methods for preventing, slowing the progression of, or treating nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and/or liver fibrosis, and/or reducing the risks of liver cancer in subjects, such as HIV-infected subjects, using a GHRH molecule, e.g., trans-3-hexenoyl-GHRH.sub.(1-44)-NH.sub.2, or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof. The subjects may have particular pathological features such as liver fibrosis, a hepatic fat fraction (HFF) of at least about 10%, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels of at least about 30 U/L, and/or a NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) of at least 4 or 5.

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