Background: COPD is a common HIV comorbidity, and HIV-infected individuals have a higher incidence and earlier onset of COPD compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. While the pathogenesis of HIV-associated COPD is largely unknown, chronic inflammation may contribute. Four pneumoproteins known to be markers of lung injury and inflammation have been associated with COPD in HIV-uninfected individuals: PARC/CCL-18, SP-D, CC-16, and sRAGE.
Objective: To determine whether these pneumoproteins are also associated with pulmonary function and COPD Assessment Test (CAT) scores in HIV-infected individuals.
Methods: Associations between plasma pneumoprotein levels and pulmonary function were determined in a cross-sectional study of otherwise healthy HIV-infected individuals enrolled between September 2016 and June 2017. Covariates included HIV-associated (antiretroviral therapy, CD4 count, and viral load) and COPD-associated (smoking and BMI) covariates.
Results: Among 65 participants, 78.5% were male, 50.8% had undetectable viral load, and 76.9% were ever-smokers. Mean post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC was 0.71, and mean DLco%predicted was 61%. Higher PARC/CCL-18 was associated with lower DLco%predicted and higher CAT score. Higher CC-16 was associated with lower DLco%predicted and lower FVC%predicted.
Conclusions: This exploratory analysis is the first to characterize associations between these four pneumoproteins and pulmonary function in an HIV-infected cohort. Our findings suggest the pathogenesis of HIV-associated COPD may differ from that of non-HIV-associated COPD due to HIV-specific inflammatory changes affecting DLco. PARC/CCL-18 is associated with structural and functional pulmonary abnormalities and may be an important COPD biomarker candidate in HIV infection. Our study is a preliminary step toward finding clinically relevant COPD biomarkers in high-risk populations.