The American Physiological Society Press Release

press release logo

APS Contact: APS Communications Office

Email: communications@the-aps.org

Phone: 301.634.7209

Twitter: @APSPhysiology


Individuals with HIV at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Immune cell changes increase risk factors in treated and untreated patients

 Bethesda, Md. (January 24, 2018)—A review of more than 80 studies reveals that changes in the immune cells of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection may increase their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The review is published in the journal Physiology.

Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) consists of a “cocktail” of several drugs that work together to reduce the amount of detectable virus (viral load) in the bloodstream. Since the development of this combination treatment approach more than 20 years ago, antiretroviral therapy has helped millions of people with HIV escape a once-certain death sentence. However, even with very low viral loads, approximately 20 percent of HIV-positive patients die of heart disease, and studies have shown that treatment with cART is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. Paradoxically, the medications in cART that help people with HIV live longer also have many harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. These drugs have been found to increase oxidative stress (a type of cell damage), impair the body’s ability to digest fat and damage blood vessels. But HIV-positive patients who do not take cART are also at risk for CVD, because HIV itself can lead to heart problems.

A team of researchers from Stellenbosch University in South Africa report that persistent immune activation may contribute to the increased risk of CVD seen in patients with HIV. Immune activation is a normal and essential function that occurs when the body responds to infection. However, the constant presence of HIV in the body, even at very low levels, causes the immune system to remain activated continuously, leading to long-term inflammation and depletion of T cells that help the body fight infection. These factors, together with damage to the lining of the blood vessels, can lead to permanent changes in the immune cells.

Increased immune activation and oxidative stress “contribute to the pathogenesis of complications such as CVD, renal disease and cancer,” the research team wrote. “Persistent immune activation is a driver of CVD in HIV-infected individuals (treated and untreated).” Future study about the metabolic changes in the immune system and the effect immune function may help reduce the risk of heart disease in people with HIV, added the researchers.

Read the full article, “HIV and cardiovascular disease: role of immunometabolic perturbations,” in Physiology.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

 


RelatedItems

Early-life Trauma May Increase Heart Disease Risk in Adults

Released December 7, 2017 - Stress in early life may change the immune response in the kidneys, increasing the risk of heart disease later in life, according to a new study. The paper, published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology, was chosen as an APSselect article for December.

New Research Shows Why Statins Should Be Viewed as a Double-Edged Sword

Released August 13, 2015 - Statins have significant cardiovascular benefits, but also serious side effects. A new study finds that statin use impairs stem cell function, which helps in slowing atherosclerosis but hinders other body processes. Because of these effects, the study supports weighing individual risk when considering statins as a preventive measure.

Exercise Nerve Response in Type 1 Diabetes Worsens over Time

Released October 18, 2017 - A new study finds that late-stage type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) weakens the autonomic reflex that regulates blood pressure during exercise, impairing circulation, nerve function and exercise tolerance. The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

From: 
Email:  
To: 
Email:  
Subject: 
Message:

~/Custom.Templates/PressRelease.aspx