HIV Accelerates Patients' Risk for Illness by 14 Years

Age by itself is associated with a higher risk for some diseases. However, HIV patients have an even greater risk of developing certain illnesses at an earlier age.

Age by itself is associated with a higher risk for some diseases. However, HIV patients have an even greater risk of developing certain illnesses at an earlier age.

Senior Author Beth Jamieson and colleagues worked to uncover if the patients’ disease was the reason for the increased risk or if the treatment caused it. The team examined 96 men who tested positive and were being treated for HIV-1 from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). Some of the patients had already started antiretroviral therapy while others did not and the white blood cells revealed the epigenetic patterns in the DNA.

”There were two groups of participants in data set one: 24 of the samples were from individuals 20—24 years of age and 24 were from individuals 48–56 years of age. In each group, 12 of the samples were from HIV-1 seropositive (SP) men and 12 were from HIV-1 seronegative (SN) men,” the authors wrote in the study results published in PLOS ONE. “There were two groups of participants in data set two: 24 of the samples were from individuals 27—35 years of age and 24 were from individuals 36–56 years of age. In each group, 12 of the samples were from HIV-1 SP men and 12 were from HIV-1 SN men.”

The epigenetic patterns that are linked to aging were compared to HIV-related changes. The authors made up of researchers from the University of California AIDS Institute and Center for AIDS Research and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, found that there was a significant overlap between both patterns.

“While we were surprised by the number of epigenetic changes that were significantly associated with both aging and HIV-infection, we were most surprised that the data suggests HIV-infection can accelerate aging-related epigenetic changes by 13.7 to 14.7 years,” Jamieson said in a news release.

The investigators revealed that the patients had a higher risk of developing some cancers, frailty, osteoporosis, neurocognitive disease, and renal and kidney disease at an earlier age. However, the team noted that it was undetermined whether the antiretroviral therapy drugs caused changes or if they brought the epigenetic patterns back to being age-appropriate.

“Future research should evaluate whether module 3 also reveals HIV related age acceleration effects in other solid,” the researchers concluded. “These results are an important first step for finding potential therapeutic approaches to mitigate the effects of both HIV and aging.”