Effects of Heavy Drinking on T-Cell Phenotypes Consistent with Immunosenescence in Untreated HIV Infection

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Aug;40(8):1737-43. doi: 10.1111/acer.13142. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


Background: The role of alcohol consumption in HIV-related adaptive immune dysfunction is debated. We hypothesized that heavy drinking would be associated with greater evidence of immunosenescence (i.e., aging-related decline of adaptive immune function) among antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve HIV-infected individuals.

Methods: Using data from the Russia ARCH cohort study, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of ART-naïve HIV-infected individuals recruited between 2012 and 2014.

Independent variable: Heavy drinking defined as >4 standard drinks in a day (or >14 standard drinks per week) for men and >3 per day (or >7 per week) for women, respectively.

Dependent variables: Percentage of CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells with a phenotype consistent with immunosenescence (i.e., expressing CD28- CD57+, or memory [CD45RO+ CD45RA+] phenotype and not the naïve [CD45RO- CD45RA+] phenotype).

Statistical analysis: Multiple linear regression adjusted for confounders.

Results: Of 214 eligible participants, 61% were heavy drinkers. Mean age was 33 years and the cohort was predominantly male (72%). Hepatitis C prevalence was high (87%) and mean log10 HIV-1 RNA copies/ml was 4.6. We found no significant differences by drinking status in the percentage of immunosenescent, memory, or naïve CD8+ or CD4+ T-cells.

Conclusions: In this cross-sectional analysis, heavy drinking in the setting of untreated HIV infection did not appear to be associated with alterations in T-cell phenotypes consistent with immunosenescence. To substantiate these findings, longitudinal studies should assess whether changes in alcohol consumption are associated with changes in these and other immunosenescent T-cell phenotypes.

Keywords: HIV; Heavy Drinking; Immunosenescence; Russia; T-Cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Immunosenescence / immunology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Phenotype*
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism