Women may be disproportionately impacted by the negative effect of HIV on cerebrovascular risk. We examined the association of HIV, sex, menopause, and immune activation with cerebrovascular function among women with HIV (WWH) and at risk for HIV from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study and men with HIV (MWH).
Participants were aged ≥40 years with coronary heart disease or at least one cardiometabolic risk factor. All persons with HIV were on antiretroviral therapy with undetectable viral load. Cerebral vasoreactivity was assessed by the transcranial Doppler breath-holding test, with lower vasoreactivity corresponding to worse cerebrovascular function. Menopausal status was determined by anti-Mullerian hormone level. We used mixed effects linear regression to identify factors associated with cerebral vasoreactivity.
Mean cerebral vasoreactivity was similar in WWH (n = 33) and women at risk for HIV (n = 16). A trend toward higher cerebral vasoreactivity in WWH compared with MWH (n = 37) was no longer present after excluding women on estrogen replacement therapy (n = 3). In women, menopausal status was not significantly associated with cerebral vasoreactivity. WWH with higher cardiovascular risk (-0.14 for each additional cardiometabolic risk factor, p = 0.038), sCD163 (-0.20 per doubling, p = 0.033), and proportion of CD4+CX3CR1+ T cells (-0.14 per doubling, p = 0.028) had lower cerebral vasoreactivity.
Among older women at high cardiovascular risk, women with virologically suppressed HIV and women at risk for HIV had similar cerebrovascular function. Our findings, which must be interpreted in the context of the small sample, highlight the contribution of traditional cardiometabolic risk factors and immune activation to cerebrovascular risk in WWH.