Perinatally acquired HIV infection accelerates epigenetic aging in South African adolescents

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Abstract

Objective:

Recent studies demonstrate that infection with the HIV-1 is associated with accelerated aging effects in adults according to a highly accurate epigenetic biomarker of aging known as epigenetic clock. However, it is not yet known whether epigenetic age acceleration occurs as early as adolescence in perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV+) youth.

Design:

Observational study of PHIV and HIV-uninfected adolescents enrolled in the Cape Town Adolescent Antiretroviral Cohort Study.

Methods:

The Illumina EPIC array was used to generate blood DNA methylation data from 204 PHIV and 44 age-matched, uninfected (HIV−) adolescents aged 9–12 years old. The epigenetic clock software and method was used to estimate two measures of epigenetic age acceleration. Each participant completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery upon enrollment to Cape Town Adolescent Antiretroviral Cohort.

Results:

HIV is associated with biologically older blood in PHIV+ adolescents according to both measures of epigenetic age acceleration. One of the measures, extrinsic epigenetic age acceleration, is negatively correlated with measures of cognitive functioning (executive functioning, working memory, processing speed).

Conclusion:

Overall, our results indicate that epigenetic age acceleration in blood can be observed in PHIV+ adolescents and that these epigenetic changes accompany poorer cognitive functioning.

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