T-Cell Immune Dysregulation and Mortality in Women With Human Immunodeficiency Virus

J Infect Dis. 2022 Feb 15;225(4):675-685. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab433.


Summary: In women with HIV, higher activation and exhaustion of CD4+ T cells were associated with risk of non-HIV-related mortality during a median of 13.3 years of follow-up, independent of baseline demographic, behavioral, HIV-related, and cardiometabolic factors and longitudinal HIV disease progression.

Background: Dysregulation of adaptive immunity is a hallmark of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection that persists on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Few long-term prospective studies have related adaptive immunity impairments to mortality in HIV, particularly in women.

Methods: Among 606 women with HIV in the Women's Interagency HIV Study, peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected from 2002 to 2005 underwent multiparameter flow cytometry. Underlying cause of death was ascertained from the National Death Index up to 2018. We examined associations of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell activation (%CD38+HLA-DR+), senescence (%CD57+CD28-), exhaustion (%PD-1+), and nonactivation/normal function (%CD57-CD28+) with natural-cause, HIV-related, and non-HIV-related mortality.

Results: At baseline, median participant age was 41, and 67% were on ART. Among 100 deaths during a median of 13.3 years follow-up, 90 were natural-cause (53 non-HIV-related, 37 HIV-related). Higher activation and exhaustion of CD4+ T cells were associated with risk of natural-cause and non-HIV-related mortality, adjusting for age, demographic, behavioral, HIV-related, and cardiometabolic factors at baseline. Additional adjustment for time-varying viral load and CD4+ T-cell count did not attenuate these associations. CD8+ T-cell markers were not associated with any outcomes adjusting for baseline factors.

Conclusions: Persistent CD4+ T-cell activation and exhaustion may contribute to excess long-term mortality risk in women with HIV, independent of HIV disease progression.

Keywords: HIV; T-cell; immune activation; mortality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD28 Antigens
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / complications
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Viral Load


  • CD28 Antigens