Most Recent Papers

Altered pattern of circulating miRNAs in HIV lipodystrophy perturb key adipose differentiation and inflammation pathways

Srinivasa S, Garcia-Martin R, Torriani M, Fitch KVCarlson AR, Kahn CR, Grinspoon SK. Altered pattern of circulating miRNAs in HIV lipodystrophy perturb key adipose differentiation and inflammation pathways. JCI Insight. 2021 Aug 12:150399. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.150399. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34383714.


We identified a microRNA (miRNA) profile characterizing HIV lipodystrophy and explored the downstream mechanistic implications with respect to adipocyte biology and the associated clinical phenotype. miRNA profiles were extracted from small extracellular vesicles (sEV) of HIV-infected individuals with and without lipodystrophic changes and individuals without HIV, among whom we previously showed significant reductions in adipose Dicer expression related to HIV. miR-20a-3p was increased and miR-324-5p and miR-186 reduced in sEV from HIV lipodystrophic individuals. Changes in these miRNAs correlated with adipose Dicer expression and clinical markers of lipodystrophy, including fat redistribution, insulin resistance, and hypertriglyceridemia. Human preadipocytes transfected with mimic miR-20a-3p, anti-miR-324-5p or anti-miR-186 induced consistent changes in Ltbp2, Wisp2, and Nebl expression. Knockdown of Ltbp2 (Latent-transforming growth factor beta-binding protein 2) downregulated markers of adipocyte differentiation (Fabp4, Pparg, C/ebpa, Fasn, adiponectin, Glut4, CD36), and Lamin C, and increased expression of genes involved in inflammation (IL1β, IL6, and Ccl20). Our studies suggest a unique sEV miRNA signature related to dysregulation of Dicer in adipose in HIV. Enhanced miR-20a-3p or depletion of miR-186 and miR-324-5p may downregulate Ltbp2 in HIV leading to dysregulation in adipose differentiation and inflammation, which could contribute to acquired HIV lipodystrophy and associated metabolic and inflammatory perturbations.

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Assessment of Coronary Artery Disease With Computed Tomography Angiography and Inflammatory and Immune Activation Biomarkers Among Adults With HIV Eligible for Primary Cardiovascular Prevention

Hoffmann U, Lu MT, Foldyna B, Zanni MV, Karady J, Taron J, Zhai BK, Burdo T, Fitch KVKileel EM, Williams K, Fichtenbaum CJ, Overton ET, Malvestutto C, Aberg J, Currier J, Sponseller CA, Melbourne K, Floris-Moore M, Van Dam C, Keefer MC, Koletar SL, Douglas PS, Ribaudo H, Mayrhofer T, Grinspoon SK; REPRIEVE trial. Assessment of Coronary Artery Disease With Computed Tomography Angiography and Inflammatory and Immune Activation Biomarkers Among Adults With HIV Eligible for Primary Cardiovascular Prevention. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Jun 1;4(6):e2114923. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.14923. PMID: 34185068; PMCID: PMC8243232.


Importance: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is increased among people with HIV (PWH), but little is known regarding the prevalence and extent of coronary artery disease (CAD) and associated biological factors in PWH with low to moderate traditional CVD risk.

Objectives: To determine unique factors associated with CVD in PWH and to assess CAD by coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) and critical pathways of arterial inflammation and immune activation.

Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study among male and female PWH, aged 40 to 75 years, without known CVD, receiving stable antiretroviral therapy, and with low to moderate atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk according to the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association pooled cohort equation, was part of the Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV (REPRIEVE), a large, ongoing primary prevention trial of statin therapy among PWH conducted at 31 US sites. Participants were enrolled from May 2015 to February 2018. Data analysis was conducted from May to December 2020.

Exposure: HIV disease.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was the prevalence and composition of CAD assessed by coronary CTA and, secondarily, the association of CAD with traditional risk indices and circulating biomarkers, including insulin, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), interleukin (IL) 6, soluble CD14 (sCD14), sCD163, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (LpPLA2), oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP).

Results: The sample included 755 participants, with a mean (SD) age of 51 (6) years, 124 (16%) female participants, 267 (35%) Black or African American participants, 182 (24%) Latinx participants, a low median (interquartile range) ASCVD risk (4.5% [2.6%-6.8%]), and well-controlled viremia. Overall, plaque was seen in 368 participants (49%), including among 52 of 175 participants (30%) with atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk of less than 2.5%. Luminal obstruction of at least 50% was rare (25 [3%]), but vulnerable plaque and high Leaman score (ie, >5) were more frequently observed (172 of 755 [23%] and 118 of 743 [16%], respectively). Overall, 251 of 718 participants (35%) demonstrated coronary artery calcium score scores greater than 0. IL-6, LpPLA2, oxLDL, and MCP-1 levels were higher in those with plaque compared with those without (eg, median [IQR] IL-6 level, 1.71 [1.05-3.04] pg/mL vs 1.45 [0.96-2.60] pg/mL; P = .008). LpPLA2 and IL-6 levels were associated with plaque in adjusted modeling, independent of traditional risk indices and HIV parameters (eg, IL-6: adjusted odds ratio, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.12; P = .01).

Conclusions and relevance: In this study of a large primary prevention cohort of individuals with well-controlled HIV and low to moderate ASCVD risk, CAD, including noncalcified, nonobstructive, and vulnerable plaque, was highly prevalent. Participants with plaque demonstrated higher levels of immune activation and arterial inflammation, independent of traditional ASCVD risk and HIV parameters.

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Cardiovascular Risk and Health Among People With HIV Eligible for Primary Prevention: Insights From the REPRIEVE Trial

Douglas PS, Umbleja T, Bloomfield GS, Fichtenbaum CJ, Zanni MV, Overton ET, Fitch KVKileel EM, Aberg JA, Currier J, Sponseller CA, Melbourne K, Avihingsanon A, Bustorff F, Estrada V, Ruxrungtham K, Saumoy M, Navar AM, Hoffmann U, Ribaudo HJ, Grinspoon S; REPRIEVE Investigators. Cardiovascular Risk and Health Among People With HIV Eligible for Primary Prevention: Insights From the REPRIEVE Trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 16:ciab552. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab552. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34134131.


Background: In addition to traditional cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, antiretroviral therapy, lifestyle, and HIV-related factors may contribute to future CV events in persons with HIV (PWH).

Methods: Among participants in the global REPRIEVE randomized trial, we characterized demographics and HIV characteristics relative to ACC/AHA Pooled Cohort Equations (PCE) for atherosclerotic CV disease predicted risk and CV health evaluated by Life's Simple 7 (LS7; includes smoking, diet, physical activity, body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and glucose).

Results: Among 7382 REPRIEVE participants (31% women, 45% Black or African American), the median PCE risk score was 4.5% (Q1, Q3: 2.2, 7.2); 29% had a PCE score <2.5% and 9% scored above 10%. PCE score was related closely to known CV risk factors and modestly (<1% difference in risk score) to immune function and HIV parameters. The median LS7 score was 9 (Q1, Q3: 7, 10) of a possible 14. Only 24 participants (0.3%) had 7/7 ideal components, and 36% had ≤2 ideal components; 90% had <5 ideal components. The distribution of LS7 did not vary by age or natal sex, while ideal health was more common in low sociodemographic index countries and among Asians. Poor dietary and physical activity patterns on LS7 were seen across all PCE scores, including the lowest risk categories.

Conclusions: Poor CV health by LS7 was common among REPRIEVE participants, regardless of PCE. This suggests a critical and independent role for lifestyle interventions in conjunction with conventional treatment to improve CV outcomes in PWH.

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Delineating tesamorelin response pathways in HIV-associated NAFLD using a targeted proteomic and transcriptomic approach

Fourman LTStanley TL, Billingsley JM, Sui SJH, Feldpausch MN, Boutin A, Zheng I, McClure CM, Corey KE, Torriani M, Kleiner DE, Hadigan CM, Chung RT, Grinspoon SK. Delineating tesamorelin response pathways in HIV-associated NAFLD using a targeted proteomic and transcriptomic approach. Sci Rep. 2021 May 18;11(1):10485. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89966-y. PMID: 34006921; PMCID: PMC8131688.


NAFLD is a leading comorbidity in HIV with an exaggerated course compared to the general population. Tesamorelin has been demonstrated to reduce liver fat and prevent fibrosis progression in HIV-associated NAFLD. We further showed that tesamorelin downregulated hepatic gene sets involved in inflammation, tissue repair, and cell division. Nonetheless, effects of tesamorelin on individual plasma proteins pertaining to these pathways are not known. Leveraging our prior randomized-controlled trial and transcriptomic approach, we performed a focused assessment of 9 plasma proteins corresponding to top leading edge genes within differentially modulated gene sets. Tesamorelin led to significant reductions in vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA, log2-fold change - 0.20 ± 0.35 vs. 0.05 ± 0.34, P = 0.02), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1, - 0.35 ± 0.56 vs. - 0.05 ± 0.43, P = 0.05), and macrophage colony stimulating factor 1 (CSF1, - 0.17 ± 0.21 vs. 0.02 ± 0.20, P = 0.004) versus placebo. Among tesamorelin-treated participants, reductions in plasma VEGFA (r = 0.62, P = 0.006) and CSF1 (r = 0.50, P = 0.04) correlated with a decline in NAFLD activity score. Decreases in TGFB1 (r = 0.61, P = 0.009) and CSF1 (r = 0.64, P = 0.006) were associated with reduced gene-level fibrosis score. Tesamorelin suppressed key angiogenic, fibrogenic, and pro-inflammatory mediators. CSF1, a regulator of monocyte recruitment and activation, may serve as an innovative therapeutic target for NAFLD in HIV. Clinical Trials Registry Number: NCT02196831.

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Hot Flashes and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Indices Among Women with HIV

Toribio MFulda ESChu SM, Drobni ZD, Awadalla M, Cetlin MStanley TL, North CM, Nelson MD, Jerosch-Herold M, Szczepaniak LS, Burdo TH, Looby SE, Neilan TG, Zanni MV. Hot Flashes and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Indices Among Women With HIV. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2021 Jan 12;8(2):ofab011. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofab011. PMID: 33575428; PMCID: PMC7863866.


Women with HIV (WWH) transitioning through menopause have heightened cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. In the general population, hot flash burden relates to CVD risk indices. We found higher hot flash burden among women with vs without HIV. Further, among WWH, hot flash burden related to select CVD risk indices.

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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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