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Keywords:

  • HIV infection;
  • hypertension;
  • lipopolysaccharide;
  • nadir CD4 cell count;
  • soluble CD14

Objectives

The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that microbial translocation, quantified by levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and subsequent monocyte activation [soluble (sCD14)], is associated with hypertension in HIV-infected individuals.

Methods

In this exploratory substudy, 42 patients were recruited from a larger, longitudinal HIV-infected cohort study on blood pressure. LPS and sCD14 levels were measured retrospectively at the time of nadir CD4 cell count, selecting untreated HIV-infected patients with both advanced immunodeficiency and preserved immunocompetence at the time of nadir. Patients with later sustained hypertension (n = 16) or normotension (n = 26) throughout the study were identified. LPS was analysed using the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate colorimetric assay (Lonza, Walkersville, MD) and sCD14 using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Nonparametric statistical tests were applied.

Results

In the HIV-infected patients [median (interquartile range) age 42 (32–46) years; 79% male and 81% Caucasian], LPS and sCD14 levels were both negatively correlated with nadir CD4 cell count. Plasma levels of LPS (P < 0.001) and sCD14 (P = 0.024) were elevated in patients with later hypertension compared with patients with normotension. There was a stepwise increase in the number of patients with hypertension across tertiles of LPS (P = 0.001) and sCD14 (P = 0.007). Both LPS and sCD14 were independent predictors of elevated blood pressure after adjustment for age and gender. For each 10-unit increase in LPS (range 66–272 pg/ml), the increment in mean blood pressure in the first period of blood pressure recording was 0.86 (95% confidence interval 0.31–1.41) mmHg (P = 0.003).

Conclusions

As LPS and sCD14 were both independently associated with elevated blood pressure, microbial translocation may be linked to the development of hypertension.