Home | Clinical Focus | Frailty and inflammation link discovered in older HIV-positive men

Frailty and inflammation link discovered in older HIV-positive men

The Burnet institute has identified a link between HIV and the development of frailty and age-related diseases in HIV-positive men.

The research, published in the journal EBioMedicine, links how immune cells use energy and the prevalence of ageing diseases in HIV-positive men. Whilst men with HIV are living longer due to advances in treatment they are also more susceptible to comorbidities such as cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and frailty due to the acceleration of the ageing of the immune system.

The study, led by Dr Clovis Palmer, is the first to investigate frailty in HIV-positive men in Australia. It looked at 80 HIV-positive men over the age of 50 all of whom are on antiretroviral therapy. The researchers focused on identifying the link between inflammation and the development of frailty.

Studying how HIV changes the way immune cells use energy it was discovered that instead of behaving normally and using glucose to fight infection, immune cells in HIV-infected frail individuals were using glucose to produce toxic molecules which is what causes inflammation in the individuals.

The researchers are now looking to broaden the research to overseas as well as to examine the use of anti-inflammatory compounds in the development of new therapies.

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