Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which may be related to chronic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction despite virological control with antiretroviral therapy. The relationship between carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a surrogate marker for cardiovascular disease, proinflammatory cytokines, and endothelial activation markers has not been fully explored in HIV-infected patients who are receiving antiretroviral therapy.
Methods: We conducted a prospective, cross-sectional, observational study of treated HIV-infected patients and healthy control subjects to evaluate the relationship between carotid IMT, proinflammatory cytokines, endothelial activation biomarkers, and metabolic parameters in treated HIV-infected patients, compared with healthy control subjects.
Results: We enrolled 73 HIV-infected patients and 21 control subjects. Common carotid artery and internal carotid artery IMT measurements, as well as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, myeloperoxidase, and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 levels were higher in the HIV-infected group. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein was the only biomarker that was positively correlated with carotid IMT in both groups. In the HIV-infected group, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 was positively correlated with all inflammatory cytokine levels. In multiple regression analysis, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, myeloperoxidase, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels were all associated with internal carotid artery IMT in the HIV-infected group, whereas age was associated with both common carotid artery and internal carotid artery IMT.
Conclusions: Enhanced endothelial activation, inflammation, and increased carotid IMT occur in HIV-infected patients despite antiretroviral therapy. Inflammatory markers are associated with endothelial activation, and both are associated with internal carotid artery IMT, supporting a potential role of inflammation in endothelial activation and cardiovascular disease in HIV infection.