Interpretation of the increase in certain inflammatory markers in virally suppressed HIV-infected individuals must rely on an appropriate uninfected control group well characterized for non-HIV-related factors that contribute to chronic inflammation, e.g. smoking, alcohol consumption, or being overweight. We compared the inflammatory profiles of HIV-infected participants under long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) with those of two HIV-uninfected groups with contrasting health behaviours.
We studied 150 HIV-infected participants (42 women, 108 men) under long-term ART (median, 6 years) followed in the ANRS PRIMO cohort since acute/early HIV-1 infection (AHI) diagnosis. Sex and age-matched controls were sampled from i) the ANRS IPERGAY pre-exposure prophylaxis trial among men at high risk for HIV infection and with high frequencies of non-HIV factors of inflammation ii) the ANRS COHVAC cohort of volunteers in vaccine trials with a low-risk profile for HIV infection. We measured the plasma levels of ten inflammatory markers.
After adjusting for smoking, alcohol use and body mass index, both HIV-infected men and women had higher levels of sCD14, sCD163, sTNFRII and I-FABP than their high-risk IPERGAY and low-risk COHVAC counterparts. Hierarchical clustering showed a subset of 15 PRIMO participants to have an inflammatory profile similar to that of most HIV-negative participants. These participants already had favourable markers at AHI diagnosis.
Long-term ART, even when initiated at a low level of immunodeficiency, fails to normalize monocyte/macrophage activation and gut epithelial dysfunction. Persistent inflammation under treatment may be related to an increased inflammatory profile since AHI.
ANRS and Paris-Saclay University.

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