Pathogenesis of HIV-Related Lung Disease: Immunity, Infection, and Inflammation

Physiol Rev. 2020 Apr 1;100(2):603-632. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00039.2018. Epub 2019 Oct 10.


Despite anti-retroviral therapy (ART), human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV)-related pulmonary disease continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality for people living with HIV (PLWH). The spectrum of lung diseases has changed from acute opportunistic infections resulting in death to chronic lung diseases for those with access to ART. Chronic immune activation and suppression can result in impairment of innate immunity and progressive loss of T cell and B cell functionality with aberrant cytokine and chemokine responses systemically as well as in the lung. HIV can be detected in the lungs of PLWH and has profound effects on cellular immune functions. In addition, HIV-related lung injury and disease can occur secondary to a number of mechanisms including altered pulmonary and systemic inflammatory pathways, viral persistence in the lung, oxidative stress with additive effects of smoke exposure, microbial translocation, and alterations in the lung and gut microbiome. Although ART has had profound effects on systemic viral suppression in HIV, the impact of ART on lung immunology still needs to be fully elucidated. Understanding of the mechanisms by which HIV-related lung diseases continue to occur is critical to the development of new preventive and therapeutic strategies to improve lung health in PLWH.

Keywords: HIV; immunity; infection; inflammation; lung.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / immunology*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / virology
  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / virology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • HIV / drug effects
  • HIV / immunology*
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / virology
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung / virology
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / virology
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / virology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents