Endothelial markers and HIV infection in the era of highly active antiretroviral treatment

Thromb Res. 2003 May 1;110(2-3):93-8. doi: 10.1016/s0049-3848(03)00291-3.


Many circumstances can induce activation and/or injury of the endothelium that plays a role in the development of vascular complications. Raised plasma levels of endothelial markers such as von Willebrand factor (vWF), soluble thrombomodulin (sTM) and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) have a prognostic and/or diagnostic value. Human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients (HIV+) have a clustering of conditions that activate or injure the endothelium. Highly active antiretroviral treatment produces adverse effects such as dyslipemia, insulin resistance (IR) and body fat changes (named lipodystrophy syndrome) which may contribute to aggravate their endothelial perturbation. The aim of this study was to measure lipid profile, insulin resistance status, and endothelial markers in 38 HIV+ naive of antiretroviral treatment and 63 HIV+ under highly active antiretroviral treatment (33 with lipodystrophy syndrome and 30 without it). Body fat distribution was also evaluated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) analysis. Thirty-one HIV negative subjects were used as controls. We looked for association between variables. Insulin resistance status was a common finding in the four groups. Lipodystrophic patients presented an atherothrombotic lipid profile [elevated levels of triglycerides (TG), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-chol) and apolipoprotein-B (APO-B)] and a strong loss of fat in legs and arms (lipoatrophy). All endothelial markers evaluated in our naive patients were higher as compared to control group. sVCAM-1 in HIV+ under therapy without lipodystrophy syndrome showed significantly decreased levels as compared to naive group (487 vs. 666 ng/ml) and vWF and sTM tended to diminish although they did not show a significant difference (130% vs. 170%, 41 vs. 45 ng/ml, respectively). Lipodystrophic patients showed a tendency to increased levels of endothelial activation markers (sVCAM-1: 500 ng/ml and vWF: 154%) together with significantly increased levels of an endothelial injury marker (sTM: 50 ng/ml) with respect to HIV+ under therapy without lipodystrophy syndrome. Plasma levels of sTM, as an endothelial injury marker, correlated with peripheral lipoatrophy (rho = -0.357) in lipodystrophic patients. In conclusion, despite the beneficial immunology effect of highly active antiretroviral treatment and the apparent decrease in the endothelial perturbation, the patients who develop lipodystrophy present altered endothelial markers and other risk factors, such as IR and dyslipemia, which turn them into a high atherothrombotic risk group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adult
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active*
  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • HIV Infections / physiopathology
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / drug therapy
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / metabolism
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thrombomodulin / blood
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipids
  • Thrombomodulin
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1