Increased carotid artery wall stiffness and plaque prevalence in HIV infected patients measured with ultrasound elastography

Eur Radiol. 2020 Jun;30(6):3178-3187. doi: 10.1007/s00330-020-06660-9. Epub 2020 Feb 12.


Objectives: Assess carotid artery strain and motion in people living with HIV as markers of premature aging using ultrasound noninvasive vascular elastography (NIVE).

Methods: Seventy-four HIV-infected and 75 age-matched control subjects were recruited from a prospective, controlled cohort study from October 2015 to October 2017 (mean age 56 years ± 8 years; 128 men). NIVE applied to longitudinal ultrasound images of common and internal carotid arteries quantified the cumulated axial strain, cumulated shear strain, cumulated axial translation, and cumulated lateral translations. The presence of plaque was also assessed. An association between elastography biomarkers and HIV status was evaluated with Mann-Whitney tests and multivariable linear regression models.

Results: A higher occurrence of carotid artery plaques was found in HIV-infected individuals (p = 0.011). Lower cumulated lateral translations were found in HIV-infected subjects on both common and internal carotid arteries (p = 0.037 and p = 0.026, respectively). These observations remained significant when considering multivariable models including common cardiovascular risk factors and clinical characteristics (p < 0.05). Lower cumulated axial strains were also observed in internal carotid arteries when considering both multivariable models (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Lower translation and strain of the carotid artery wall in HIV-infected individuals indicates increased vessel wall stiffness. These new imaging biomarkers could be used to characterize premature atherosclerosis development.

Key points: • Noninvasive vascular elastography (NIVE) based on ultrasound imaging quantifies translations and strains of carotid arteries. • Lower translation and strain of the carotid artery wall found in HIV-infected individuals indicate premature arterial stiffening, compared with age-matched controls. • Carotid artery plaques were more prevalent in HIV-infected individuals than in control subjects.

Keywords: Carotid arteries; Elasticity imaging techniques; HIV infections; Premature aging; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Carotid Artery, Common / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Stenosis / physiopathology*
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vascular Stiffness*