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Researchers Conclude that HIV Infected Older Adults Can be 14 Years Older than their Chronological Age

Researchers at the UCLA AIDS Institute and Center for AIDS Research and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), conclude from data reported in the journal PLOS ONE (Rickabaugh 2015), that HIV accelerates aging related changes by more than 14 years. That number reflects other published data that shows ART-treated HIV-infected older adults can evidence age related diseases on average a decade earlier when compared to uninfected older adults.

Data was derived from white blood cell samples stored at UCLA’s MACS site. The MACS effort has been collecting bio samples, clinical, behavioral and socioeconomic data on HIV-infected men and men at risk for HIV infection since 1983. Analyses used white blood cell samples from young (20 to 35 years old) and older (36 to 56) adults who at the time of sampling had not begun ART. There were 12 HIV-infected and 12 age-matched HIV-uninfected samples for both age groups. Extracted DNA from the samples were analyzed for epigenetic patterns. They found a significant overlap when comparing epigenetic patterns that are tightly correlated with aging to those seen in HIV-infection. They used those overlapping patterns to estimate the biological age of HIV-infected untreated adults. They concluded that the HIV infected adults looked to be approximately 14 years older than their chronological age.

The data reported show that HIV infection can accelerate aging-related epigenetics. More research is needed to determine if ART results in a “restoration” of the patterns or if ART itself induced additional changes. The authors conclude that “HIV-1 infection does accelerate some aspects of aging and that general aging, and HIV-1 related aging, work through at least some common mechanisms” (ID News 2015).

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