Objective: To develop and validate a model of a clinical trial that evaluates the changes in cholesterol level as a surrogate marker for lipodystrophy in HIV subjects under alternative antiretroviral regimes, i.e., treatment with Protease Inhibitors vs. a combination of nevirapine and other antiretroviral drugs. Methods: Five simulation models were developed based on different assumptions, on treatment variability and pattern of cholesterol reduction over time. The last recorded cholesterol level, the difference from the baseline, the average difference from the baseline and level evolution, are the considered endpoints. Specific validation criteria based on a 10% minus or plus standardized distance in means and variances were used to compare the real and the simulated data. Results: The validity criterion was met by all models for considered endpoints. However, only two models met the validity criterion when all endpoints were considered. The model based on the assumption that within-subjects variability of cholesterol levels changes over time is the one that minimizes the validity criterion, standardized distance equal to or less than 1% minus or plus. Conclusion: Simulation is a useful technique for calibration, estimation, and evaluation of models, which allows us to relax the often overly restrictive assumptions regarding parameters required by analytical approaches. The validity criterion can also be used to select the preferred model for design optimization, until additional data are obtained allowing an external validation of the model. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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