Cytomegalovirus-specific CD8+ T-cell responses are associated with arterial blood pressure in people living with HIV

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People living with HIV (PLHIV) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and immunity against cytomegalovirus (CMV) may be a contributing factor. We hypothesized that enhanced T-cell responses against CMV and CMV-IgG antibody-levels are associated with higher arterial blood pressure in PLHIV. We assessed serum CMV-IgG, systolic- (SBP) and diastolic- (DBP) blood pressure, pulse pressure (PP), traditional risk factors, activated CD8+ T-cells (CD38+HLA-DR+), senescent CD8+ T-cells (CD28-CD57+) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in 60 PLHIV and 31 HIV-uninfected controls matched on age, gender, education and comorbidity. In PLHIV, expression of interleukin-2, tumor necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ was measured by intracellular-cytokine-staining after stimulation of T-cells with CMV-pp65 and CMV-gB. Associations between CMV-specific immune responses and hypertension, SBP, DBP or PP were assessed by multivariate logistic and linear regression models adjusted for appropriate confounders. The median age of PLHIV was 47 years and 90% were male. Prevalence of hypertension in PLHIV was 37% compared to 55% of HIV-uninfected controls. CMV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses were independently associated with higher PP (CMV-pp65; β = 2.29, p = 0.001, CMV-gB; β = 2.42, p = 0.001) in PLHIV. No significant differences were found with regard to individual measures of SBP and DBP. A possible weak association was found between CMV-IgG and hypertension (β = 1.33, p = 0.049) after adjustment for age, smoking and LDL-cholesterol. HIV-related factors, IL-6, CD8+ T-cell activation or CD8+ T-cell senescence did not mediate the associations, and no associations were found between CMV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses and blood pressure in PLHIV. In conclusion, increased arterial blood pressure in PLHIV may be affected by heightened CMV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0226182
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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