Researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (MGH) found that tesamorelin reduces liver fat and prevents liver fibrosis in people living with HIV.

The study was conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Cancer Institute.

Investigators tested whether the injectable hormone could decrease liver fat in men and women living with both HIV and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Thirty-one participants were randomly chosen to receive a daily 2-mg injection of tesamorelin, while 30 were randomized to receive identical-looking injections containing a placebo. Forty-three percent of the participants had at least mild fibrosis, and 33% met the diagnostic criteria for a more severe subset of NAFLD called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

After comparing the measures of liver health in both groups at baseline and 12 months, participants receiving tesamorelin had better liver health than those receiving placebo. Thirty-five percent of the study participants receiving tesamorelin achieved a normal hepatic fat fraction (HFF), which is defined as the ratio of fat to other tissue in the liver.

The injectable was well-tolerated and reduced participants’ HFF by an absolute difference of 4.1%. Levels of blood markers associated with inflammation and liver damage decreased more among those taking tesamorelin compared to those on the placebo.

With the results, investigators plan to expand the indication for tesamorelin to include people living with HIV who have been diagnosed with NAFLD. In addition, they said, more research should be conducted to determine if tesamorelin could contribute to long-term protection against serious liver disease in people without HIV.


Drug reverses signs of liver disease in people living with HIV. NIH newsroom. Published October 11, 2019. Accessed October 15, 2019.