Biological aging is associated with immune activation (IA) and declining immunity due to systemic inflammation. It is widely accepted that HIV infection causes persistent IA and premature immune senescence despite effective antiretroviral therapy and virologic suppression; however, the effects of combined HIV infection and aging are not well defined. Here, we assessed the relationship between markers of IA and inflammation during biological aging in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. Antibody response to seasonal influenza vaccination was implemented as a measure of immune competence and relationships between IA, inflammation, and antibody responses were explored using statistical modeling appropriate for integrating high-dimensional data sets. Our results show that markers of IA, such as coexpression of HLA antigen D related (HLA-DR) and CD38 on CD4+ T cells, exhibit strong associations with HIV infection but not with biological age. Certain variables that showed a strong relationship with aging, such as declining naive and CD38+ CD4 and CD8+ T cells, did so regardless of HIV infection. Interestingly, the variable of biological age was not identified in a predictive model as significantly impacting vaccine responses in either group, while distinct IA and inflammatory variables were closely associated with vaccine response in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. These findings shed light on the most relevant and persistent immune defects during virological suppression with antiretroviral therapy.
Lesley R. de Armas, Suresh Pallikkuth, Varghese George, Stefano Rinaldi, Rajendra Pahwa, Kristopher L. Arheart, Savita Pahwa