Individuals with HIV at higher risk for heart disease

January 25, 2018, American Physiological Society
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A review of more than 80 studies reveals that changes in the immune cells of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection may increase their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The review is published in the journal Physiology.

Combination (cART) consists of a "cocktail" of several drugs that work together to reduce the amount of detectable virus (viral load) in the bloodstream. Since the development of this combination treatment approach more than 20 years ago, antiretroviral therapy has helped millions of people with HIV escape a once-certain death sentence. However, even with very low viral loads, approximately 20 percent of HIV-positive patients die of heart disease, and studies have shown that treatment with cART is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. Paradoxically, the medications in cART that help people with HIV live longer also have many harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. These drugs have been found to increase (a type of cell damage), impair the body's ability to digest fat and damage blood vessels. But HIV-positive patients who do not take cART are also at risk for CVD, because HIV itself can lead to heart problems.

A team of researchers from Stellenbosch University in South Africa report that persistent immune activation may contribute to the increased risk of CVD seen in patients with HIV. Immune activation is a normal and essential function that occurs when the body responds to infection. However, the constant presence of HIV in the body, even at very low levels, causes the immune system to remain activated continuously, leading to long-term inflammation and depletion of T cells that help the body fight infection. These factors, together with damage to the lining of the blood vessels, can lead to permanent changes in the .

Increased immune activation and oxidative stress "contribute to the pathogenesis of complications such as CVD, renal disease and cancer," the research team wrote. "Persistent immune activation is a driver of CVD in HIV-infected individuals (treated and untreated)." Future study about the metabolic changes in the immune system and the effect immune function may help reduce the risk of heart disease in people with HIV, added the researchers.

"HIV and : role of immunometabolic perturbations" is published in Physiology.

Explore further: Early antiretroviral therapy reduces gut inflammation in HIV+ individuals

More information: Eman Teer et al. HIV and Cardiovascular Disease: Role of Immunometabolic Perturbations, Physiology (2017). DOI: 10.1152/physiol.00028.2017

Related Stories

Early antiretroviral therapy reduces gut inflammation in HIV+ individuals

July 7, 2016
Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) suppresses HIV replication and significantly slows the progression of disease, enabling HIV+ individuals to effectively manage infection for long periods. One of the manifestations ...

Unique pattern of brain inflammation may explain neurocognitive impairment in HIV patients on antiretroviral drugs

December 8, 2017
Although combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has improved survival of patients infected with HIV and has reduced the incidence of severe neurologic complications, almost half of cART-treated HIV patients experience ...

Interfering with interferon boosts antiretroviral efficacy in HIV-infected mice

December 12, 2016
Although combined anti-retroviral therapy (cART) can help HIV-1-positive patients effectively manage their infection, some individuals experience ongoing activation of the immune system that can exacerbate disease progression. ...

Early-life trauma may increase heart disease risk in adults

December 8, 2017
Stress in early life may change the immune response in the kidneys, increasing the risk of heart disease later in life, according to a new study. The paper, published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal ...

Antiretroviral therapy may not be enough to reduce HIV-associated arterial inflammation

May 25, 2016
Initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) soon after diagnosis of an HIV infection did not prevent the progression of significant arterial inflammation in a small group of previously untreated patients. The findings from a ...

Pretreatment HIV, immune activation levels determine their persistence during treatment

April 20, 2017
A study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator may have answered a major debate in HIV research - whether the tiny amounts of HIV that persist in patients receiving long-term antiretroviral treatment (ART) ...

Recommended for you

New simulation tool predicts how well HIV-prophylaxis will work

June 14, 2018
A new mathematical simulation approach predicts the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications, which help prevent HIV infection. The framework, presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Sulav Duwal ...

Many at risk for HIV despite lifesaving pill

June 11, 2018
Multiple barriers may stop high-risk individuals from accessing an HIV drug that can reduce the subsequent risk of infection, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Active HIV in large white blood cells may drive cognitive impairment in infected mice

June 7, 2018
Macrophages, large white blood cells that engulf and destroy potential pathogens, harbor active viral reserves that appear to play a key role in impaired learning and memory in mice infected with a rodent version of HIV. ...

HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains

June 4, 2018
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world. The findings were reported ...

HIV study reveals new group of men at risk of infection

June 4, 2018
A group of men who may be underestimating their HIV risk has been identified in a new study.

Discovery reveals how cells try to control levels of key HIV protein

May 31, 2018
One of the many challenges in treating HIV is that the virus can lie dormant in cells, quietly evading immune detection until it suddenly roars to life without warning and begins replicating furiously. Salk Institute researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.