Basic science and pathogenesis of ageing with HIV: potential mechanisms and biomarkers

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Abstract

The increased prevalence of age-related comorbidities and mortality is worrisome in ageing HIV-infected patients. Here, we aim to analyse the different ageing mechanisms with regard to HIV infection. Ageing results from the time-dependent accumulation of random cellular damage. Epigenetic modifications and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups modulate ageing. In antiretroviral treatment-controlled patients, epigenetic clock appears to be advanced, and some haplogroups are associated with HIV infection severity. Telomere shortening is enhanced in HIV-infected patients because of HIV and some nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Mitochondria-related oxidative stress and mitochondrial DNA mutations are increased during ageing and also by some nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Overall, increased inflammation or ‘inflammageing’ is a major driver of ageing and could result from cell senescence with secreted proinflammatory mediators, altered gut microbiota, and coinfections. In HIV-infected patients, the level of inflammation and innate immunity activation is enhanced and related to most comorbidities and to mortality. This status could result, in addition to age, from the virus itself or viral protein released from reservoirs, from HIV-enhanced gut permeability and dysbiosis, from antiretroviral treatment, from frequent cytomegalovirus and hepatitis C virus coinfections, and also from personal and environmental factors, as central fat accumulation or smoking. Adaptive immune activation and immunosenescence are associated with comorbidities and mortality in the general population but are less predictive in HIV-infected patients. Biomarkers to evaluate ageing in HIV-infected patients are required. Numerous systemic or cellular inflammatory, immune activation, oxidative stress, or senescence markers can be tested in serum or peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The novel European Study to Establish Biomarkers of Human Ageing MARK-AGE algorithm, evaluating the biological age, is currently assessed in HIV-infected patients and reveals an advanced biological age. Some enhanced inflammatory or innate immune activation markers are interesting but still not validated for the patient's follow-up. To be able to assess patients’ biological age is an important objective to improve their healthspan.

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