UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Chronic and Latent Viral Infections and Leukocyte Telomere Length across the Lifespan of Female and Male Individuals Living with or without HIV Yang, Nancy Yi; Hsieh, Anthony Y. Y.; Chen, Zhuo; Campbell, Amber R.; Gadawska, Izabella; Kakkar, Fatima; Sauvé, Laura; Bitnun, Ari; Brophy, Jason; Murray, Melanie C. M.; et al.


Background: Chronic/latent viral infections may accelerate immunological aging, particularly among people living with HIV (PLWH). We characterized chronic/latent virus infections across their lifespan and investigated their associations with leukocyte telomere length (LTL). Methods: Participants enrolled in the CARMA cohort study were randomly selected to include n = 15 for each decade of age between 0 and >60 y, for each sex, and each HIV status. Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), and HSV-2 infection were determined serologically; HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), and hepatitis B (HBV) were self-reported. LTLs were measured using monochrome multiplex qPCR. Associations between the number of viruses, LTL, and sociodemographic factors were assessed using ordinal logistic and linear regression modeling. Results: The study included 187 PLWH (105 female/82 male) and 190 HIV-negative participants (105 female/84 male), ranging in age from 0.7 to 76.1 years. Living with HIV, being older, and being female were associated with harbouring a greater number of chronic/latent non-HIV viruses. Having more infections was in turn bivariately associated with a shorter LTL. In multivariable analyses, older age, living with HIV, and the female sex remained independently associated with having more infections, while having 3–4 viruses (vs. 0–2) was associated with a shorter LTL. Conclusions: Our results suggest that persistent viral infections are more prevalent in PLWH and females, and that these may contribute to immunological aging. Whether this is associated with comorbidities later in life remains an important question.

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