CD4/CD8 Ratio and Cancer Risk Among Adults With HIV

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022 Jun 13;114(6):854-862. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djac053.


Background: Independent of CD4 cell count, a low CD4/CD8 ratio in people with HIV (PWH) is associated with deleterious immune senescence, activation, and inflammation, which may contribute to carcinogenesis and excess cancer risk. We examined whether low CD4/CD8 ratios predicted cancer among PWH in the United States and Canada.

Methods: We examined all cancer-free PWH with 1 or more CD4/CD8 values from North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design observational cohorts with validated cancer diagnoses between 1998 and 2016. We evaluated the association between time-lagged CD4/CD8 ratio and risk of specific cancers in multivariable, time-updated Cox proportional hazard models using restricted cubic spines. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, hepatitis C virus, and time-updated CD4 cell count, HIV RNA, and history of AIDS-defining illness.

Results: Among 83 893 PWH, there were 5628 incident cancers, including lung cancer (n = 755), Kaposi sarcoma (n = 501), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 497), and anal cancer (n = 439). The median age at cohort entry was 43 years. The overall median 6-month lagged CD4/CD8 ratio was 0.52 (interquartile range = 0.30-0.82). Compared with a 6-month lagged CD4/CD8 of 0.80, a CD4/CD8 of 0.30 was associated with increased risk of any incident cancer (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.24 [95% confidence interval = 1.14 to 1.35]). The CD4/CD8 ratio was also inversely associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, lung cancer, anal cancer, and colorectal cancer in adjusted analyses (all 2-sided P < .05). Results were similar using 12-, 18-, and 24-month lagged CD4/CD8 values.

Conclusions: A low CD4/CD8 ratio up to 24 months before cancer diagnosis was independently associated with increased cancer risk in PWH and may serve as a clinical biomarker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Adult
  • Anus Neoplasms*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi*
  • United States / epidemiology

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