pte20220704001 Medicine / Wellness, Research / Development
The disease leads to epigenetic changes: early diagnosis is therefore particularly important
HI virus: Infection greatly accelerates aging (Photo: niaid.nih.gov)
Los Angeles (pte001 / 04.07.2022 / 06: 00) –
People with HIV infection show accelerated aging. Biological changes in the body associated with normal aging are accelerated within two to three years of infection. This is the result of a study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles http://ucla.edu. A new infection can therefore very quickly cost nearly five years of normal life span. According to researcher Elizabeth Crabb Breen, the results show that even in the first months and years of living with HIV, the virus triggers an accelerated aging process at the DNA level.
Five areas examined
Previous studies had suggested that HIV and antiretroviral treatments, used to control infection, are associated with the early onset of diseases typically associated with age, such as heart and kidney disease, frailty and cognitive problems. The researchers examined blood samples stored from 102 men, taken six months or less before they became infected.
Blood samples archived two to three years after infection were also considered. These samples were compared with corresponding samples from 102 uninfected men of the same age over the same period. According to the study authors, this is the first study that has made such a comparison. All men participated in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study http://bit.ly/3ugadxs. This is a national study that began in 1984.
DNA methylation in focus
Researchers focused on how HIV affects epigenetic DNA methylation. This is a process used by cells to turn genes on or off as part of normal physiological changes. Epigenetic changes occur in response to environmental influences, human behavior, or other external factors such as disease. All of these factors influence the behavior of genes without modifying the genes themselves. Five epigenetic areas of aging were examined. Four of these values are epigenetic “clocks”.
Each of these watches uses a slightly different approach to estimate the acceleration of biological age in years versus chronological age. The fifth value evaluates the length of telomeres, which become shorter and shorter as we age. This process continues until the telomeres are too short for further cell division. People with HIV showed a clear acceleration in age for the first four values. It ranged from 1.9 to 4.8 years. There was also a shortening of the telomeres, which ended two to three years after the infection began.
In uninfected participants, these phenomena could not be detected in the same period. According to Beth Jamieson of the Geffen School, the long-term goal is to determine whether any of these signatures can be used to predict whether an individual is at risk. This should make new therapies possible. According to the researchers, one of the limitations of the study is that it was only conducted with men, so the results may not be applicable to women. The details were published in “iScience”.