Weight Gain Exacerbates Inflammation in People Living With HIV

October 19, 2015

Weight Gain Exacerbates Inflammation in People Living With HIV

Two studies are revealing the impact that weight gain and abdominal obesity may have on the health of people with HIV. Weight gain or mid-section obesity—even for people successfully treating HIV with antiretrovirals and with controlled viral loads—appears to not only heighten inflammation but is also  linked to neurocognitive impairment.

Kristine Erlandson, M.D., assistant professor at the University Colorado, Denver, presented data at the February 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections from the Prospective Evaluation of Antiretrovirals in Resource Limited Settings (PEARLS) trial. Her team documented changes in body mass index and inflammatory markers among 246 PEARLS participants that occurred during the 48-week study.

Over time, people in the study gained weight. The proportion of participants classified as either overweight or obese increased from 27% to 37%, while the proportion of “normal” weight participants decreased from 65% to 60% and “underweight” from 8% to 3%.

The researchers demonstrated that along with this weight gain came an increase in soluble CD14. Elevated soluble CD14 is a marker of immune activation and is associated with increased risk of mortality during HIV treatment. Incremental gains in body mass index were associated with increases in soluble CD14.

“The ‘return to health’ weight gain may be beneficial in the sickest individuals. Further weight gain among those that are overweight or obese may have detrimental effects,” Erlandson explained.

And this heightened inflammation and immune activation seen with weight gain appeared to happen even when viral loads were controlled—since the association held true even as the participants were treated with antiretroviral therapy and the researchers adjusted for baseline HIV viral load.

This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of Read the full article.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Tony (North Carolina) Wed., Nov. 25, 2015 at 9:45 am UTC
Being HIV positive for the past 14yrs and currently undetectable with normal Tcell counts thanks to my medication regiment, I have noticed an almost 50lb weight gain in the past 3 yrs. i go to the gym 5 days/wk and maintain a healthy diet. The weight gain is centered to my adbominal area. What can I do to reverse this?
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