Sex modulates the association between inflammation and coronary atherosclerosis among older Ugandan adults with and without HIV

AIDS. 2023 Mar 15;37(4):579-586. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000003451. Epub 2022 Nov 29.


Objective: Inflammation is key in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD). Distinct sex-specific inflammatory mechanisms may contribute to CAD in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where environmental and biological determinants of systemic inflammation may differ from those in high-income settings.

Approach and results: We investigated sex differences in inflammatory markers and CAD in a 2-year prospective cohort of Ugandan adults enriched for cardiometabolic risk factors (RFs) and HIV. Seven plasma biomarkers were quantified at the baseline visit among 125 females and 75 males (50% with HIV) at least 45 years old at enrollment with one or more major cardiovascular RF. In year 2, coronary CT angiography (CCTA) was performed in 82 females and 50 males returning for follow-up (52% with HIV). In sex-specific models adjusted for cardiovascular RFs and HIV, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) RII and sCD163 predicted subsequent CAD in females, while only fibrinogen was predictive in males ( P < 0.05). Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and sCD14 were inversely associated with CAD in males ( P < 0.05). Sex modified the associations of TNF-α RII, sCD14, and sCD163 with CAD ( P < 0.05 for interaction). In multivariable multiple imputation models applied to missing year 2 CCTA data to test associations between serum biomarkers in the baseline cohort ( n = 200) and subsequent CAD, higher sCD163 was predictive in females only ( P < 0.05).

Conclusions: The positive link between inflammation and subclinical CAD was stronger among females than males in Uganda. Mechanisms by which sex modulates the relationship between inflammation and CAD should be further investigated in SSA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / complications
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Uganda


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha