A new study shows that well-treated individuals living with HIV still exhibit signs of advanced biological aging.
POZ, a magazine focused on health, life, and HIV, recently reported on a study published in the LWW Journals (journal AIDS) called “Do people living with HIV experience greater age advancement than their HIV-negative counterparts?”
Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers from the ComorBidity in Relation to AIDS (COBRA) study analyzed 134 people with HIV and 79 HIV-negative people with similar sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. The participants were recruited in Amsterdam (these were at least 45 years old) and London (these were at least 50 years old).
All the HIV-positive individuals were on antiretrovirals and had had a fully suppressed viral load for at least 12 months.
The researchers also studied samples from 35 blood donors selected from the Dutch national blood bank in Amsterdam. They were matched with the HIV-positive and -negative individuals from the COBRA study according to age and had all tested negative for HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV/HCV), syphilis and human T-lymphotropic virus 1 and 2 (HTLV).
The investigators tested the participants for 10 biomarkers that previous research has indicated are associated with biological, as opposed to chronological, aging.
To help understand the study and what the researchers are reporting on it is important to know the distinctions between biological age and chronological age.
Verywellhealth.com defines the difference as “chronological age is the number of years a person has been alive, while biological age refers to how old a person seems. Biological age, also referred to as physiological age, takes many lifestyle factors into consideration, including diet, exercise and sleeping habits, to name a few.”
A lot of factors play a role in the biological age compared to one’s chronological age thus the study had to account for such factors, which is communicated in POZ’ article as well as the biological age difference between HIV-positive individuals and HIV-negative individuals.
Among the COBRA study members, biological age was greater than chronological age by an average of 13.2 years among those with HIV and 5.5 years among those without the virus. For the blood donors, biological age was an average of 7.0 years lower than chronological age.
After adjusting the data for various factors, including HIV status, the study authors found that the following factors were significantly associated with a greater average biological age compared with chronological age: chronic HBV, 10.05 years; total anti-cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG antibody levels, 1.83 years per 10-fold increase; and CD8 cell count, 0.44 years per 100-cell increase.
After adjusting for chronic HBV infection status, total anti-CMV IgG antibody levels and CD8 levels, the analysis indicated that the HIV-positive COBRA participants had a greater discrepancy between biological and chronological age compared with their HIV-negative counterparts (4.5 years on average) and with the blood donors (19.0 years on average).
After conducting another analysis in which they adjusted the data for various factors, the study authors found that HIV-related factors associated with a greater biological age compared with chronological age included: cumulative exposure to the antiretroviral Invirase (saquinavir), 1.17 years per year of exposure; a lowest-ever (nadir) CD4 count of less than 300, 3.0 years; chronic HBV, 7.35 years; and total anti-CMV IgG antibody level, 1.86 years per 10-fold increase.
To access the full LWW Journals (journal AIDS) click here. For the POZ article, “Even When Well Treated, HIV Is Linked to Advanced Aging,” click here.