A comparison of the association between glomerular filtration and L-arginine status in HIV-infected and uninfected African men: the SAfrEIC study

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Hypertension, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease worldwide, is increasing significantly in urbanised South Africans. Impaired glomerular filtration is a potential contributor to hypertension. Although HIV infection is widespread, little is known regarding its contribution to diminished estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and, in turn, hypertension in Africans. We compared eGFRs and cardiovascular profiles of newly identified HIV infected African men (N=53) not yet undergoing anti-retroviral therapy, and uninfected African men of similar age and anthropometry. The aim of the study was to determine whether eGFR is diminished in treatment naive HIV infected individuals and whether eGFR is associated with a potential modulator of hypertension, namely serum L-arginine. Cardiovascular risk factor profiles of HIV infected and uninfected men were similar. In men with healthy eGFRs >90 ml min-1 per 1.73 m2, eGFR was significantly lower with HIV infection (114 (90; 147)) compared with that in uninfected men: (120 (91; 168)), P=0.043. Despite the absence of clinically-diagnosed renal dysfunction, eGFR associated significantly with serum L-arginine only in HIV infected men (R2=0.277, β= -0.299, P=0.034), whereas L-arginine did not stay in the model for uninfected men. This difference suggests that the fate of L-arginine as a substrate for nitric oxide generation may be altered in HIV infected individuals. Subsequently this is likely to escalate endothelial dysfunction, contributing to later hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Our findings show that while glomerular filtration rate is not associated with L-arginine in uninfected men, it is diminished and significantly negatively associated with serum L-arginine in HIV infected men.

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