Infection with co-pathogens is one of the postulated factors contributing to persistent inflammation and non-AIDS events in virologically-suppressed HIV-infected patients. We aimed to investigate the relationship of human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8), a vasculotropic virus implicated in the pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma, with inflammation and subclinical atherosclerosis in HIV-infected patients.
Prospective study including virologically suppressed HIV-infected patients. Several blood biomarkers (highly-sensitive C-reactive protein [hsCRP], tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1, malondialdehyde, plasminogen activator inhibitor [PAI-1], D-dimer, sCD14, sCD163, CD4/CD38/HLA-DR, and CD8/CD38/HLA-DR), serological tests for HHV-8 and the majority of herpesviruses, carotid intima-media thickness, and endothelial function through flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery were measured.
A total of 136 patients were included, 34.6% of them infected with HHV-8. HHV-8-infected patients were more frequently co-infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) (P<0.001), and less frequently with hepatitis C virus (HCV) (P = 0.045), and tended to be older (P = 0.086). HHV-8-infected patients had higher levels of hsCRP (median [interquartile range], 3.63 [1.32–7.54] vs 2.08 [0.89–4.11] mg/L, P = 0.009), CD4/CD38/HLA-DR (7.67% [4.10–11.86]% vs 3.86% [2.51–7.42]%, P = 0.035) and CD8/CD38/HLA-DR (8.02% [4.98–14.09]% vs 5.02% [3.66–6.96]%, P = 0.018). After adjustment for the traditional cardiovascular risk factors, HCV and HSV-2 infection, the associations remained significant: adjusted difference between HHV-8 positive and negative patients (95% confidence interval) for hsCRP, 74.19% (16.65–160.13)%; for CD4/CD38/HLA-DR, 89.65% (14.34–214.87)%; and for CD8/CD38/HLA-DR, 58.41% (12.30–123.22)%. Flow-mediated dilatation and total carotid intima-media thickness were not different according to HHV-8 serostatus.
In virologically suppressed HIV-infected patients, coinfection with HHV-8 is associated with increased inflammation and immune activation. This might contribute to increase the risk of non-AIDS events, including accelerated atherosclerotic disease.