The association between HIV and emphysema remains incompletely understood. We sought to determine whether HIV is an independent risk factor for emphysema severity and whether markers of HIV severity and systemic biomarkers of inflammation (IL-6), altered coagulation (D-dimer), and immune activation (soluble CD14) are associated with emphysema.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 114 participants with HIV infection and 89 participants without HIV infection in the Examinations of HIV-Associated Lung Emphysema (EXHALE) study. Participants underwent chest CT imaging with blinded semiquantitative interpretation of emphysema severity, distribution, and type. We generated multivariable logistic regression models to determine the risk of HIV for radiographic emphysema, defined as > 10% lung involvement. Similar analyses examined associations of plasma biomarkers, HIV RNA, and recent and nadir CD4 cell counts with emphysema among participants with HIV infection.
Participants with HIV infection had greater radiographic emphysema severity with increased lower lung zone and diffuse involvement. HIV was associated with significantly increased risk for > 10% emphysema in analyses adjusted for cigarette smoking pack-years (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.12-4.48). In multivariable analyses restricted to participants with HIV infection, nadir CD4 < 200 cells/μL (OR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.14-7.81), and high soluble CD14 level (upper 25th percentile) (OR, 2.55; 95% CI, 1.04-6.22) were associated with increased risk of > 10% emphysema. IL-6 and D-dimer were not associated with emphysema in HIV.
HIV is an independent risk factor for radiographic emphysema. Emphysema severity was significantly greater among participants with HIV infection. Among those with HIV, nadir CD4 < 200 cells/μL and elevated soluble CD14 level were associated with emphysema, highlighting potential mechanisms linking HIV with emphysema.