Short Communication: Carotid Artery Plaque Burden in HIV Is Associated with Soluble Mediators and Monocytes

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2020 Dec;36(12):1020-1023. doi: 10.1089/AID.2020.0075. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


Maximum carotid plaque thickness (MCPT) measures the largest plaque thickness in the carotid artery and reflects atherosclerosis plaque burden. MCPT may be a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than carotid artery intima-media thickness (cIMT) because it identifies potential unstable arterial atherosclerosis plaques. We assessed the relationships of monocyte and T cell populations and plasma soluble mediators with MCPT measures. We performed a cross-sectional and small follow-up analysis in people living with HIV (PLWH) aged >40 years on stable antiretroviral therapy (ART) >6 months. MCPT was acquired by high-resolution B-mode ultrasound. Existing monocyte subsets and T cell activation frequencies were determined by flow cytometry and plasma mediators of inflammation and apolipoproteins were measured by Luminex assay. One hundred twenty-five ART-treated PLWH, 88% male, 55% Caucasian, with a median age of 51 years, median CD4 count of 477 cells/μL (Q1: 325, Q3: 612), 84% undetectable plasma HIV RNA (<50 copies/mL). Twenty-five PLWH had detectable carotid plaque. MCPT correlated with monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1; r = 0.487, p = .016), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α; r = 0.474 p = .019), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1; r = 0.472, p = .020), apolipoprotein B6 (ApoB6; r = -0.473, p = .019), and interleukin-6 (IL-6; r = 0.455, p = .025). In a multivariable regression model, MCP-1, TNF-α, and sVCAM-1 remained significant after adjustment for age. Carotid plaque burden was associated with increased inflammatory, monocyte, and endothelial measures, including MCP-1, TNF-α, and sVCAM-1 levels. Further investigation on the evolution or severity of plaque burden in this population is warranted.

Keywords: maximum carotid plaque thickness; monocyte subsets; soluble mediators.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery Diseases*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Carotid Stenosis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes
  • Risk Factors