Plasma levels of cytokines and chemokines and the risk of mortality in HIV-infected individuals: a case–control analysis nested in a large clinical trial

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Abstract

Background:

All-cause mortality and serious non-AIDS events (SNAEs) in individuals with HIV-1 infection receiving antiretroviral therapy are associated with increased production of interleukin-6 which appears to be driven by monocyte/macrophage activation. Plasma levels of other cytokines or chemokines associated with immune activation might also be biomarkers of an increased risk of mortality and/or SNAEs.

Methods:

Baseline plasma samples from 142 participants enrolled into the Strategies for Management of Antiretroviral Therapy study, who subsequently died, and 284 matched controls, were assayed for levels of 15 cytokines and chemokines. Cytokine and chemokine levels were analysed individually and when grouped according to function (innate/proinflammatory response, cell trafficking and cell activation/proliferation) for their association with the risk of subsequent death.

Results:

Higher plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α) were associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality but in analyses adjusted for potential confounders, only the association with interleukin-6 persisted. Increased plasma levels of the chemokine CXCL8 were also associated with all-cause mortality independently of hepatitis C virus status but not when analyses were adjusted for all confounders. In contrast, higher plasma levels of cytokines mediating cell activation/proliferation were not associated with a higher mortality risk and exhibited a weak protective effect when analysed as a group.

Conclusion:

Whereas plasma levels of interleukin-6 are the most informative biomarker of cytokine dysregulation associated with all-cause mortality in individuals with HIV-1 infection, assessment of plasma levels of CXCL8 might provide information about causes of mortality and possibly SNAEs.

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