Existing literature mostly investigated the relationship of acute or short-term glucocorticoid exposure to HIV disease progression using cortisol levels in serum, saliva, or urine. Data are limited on the relationship of long-term glucocorticoid exposure to HIV disease progression. This study examined whether hair glucocorticoid levels, novel retrospective indicators of long-term glucocorticoid exposure, are associated with two common indicators of HIV disease progression (CD4 count and HIV viral load) among a large cohort of combination antiretroviral therapy treated Chinese people living with HIV (PLHIV).
A total of 1198 treated PLHIV provided hair samples for glucocorticoid (cortisol and cortisone) assay and completed a survey assessing sociodemographic, lifestyle, and HIV-related characteristics. Meanwhile, CD4 count and HIV viral load were retrieved from their medical records. Spearman correlation was used to examine the associations of hair cortisol and cortisone levels to continuous CD4 count and HIV viral load. Multivariate logistic regression was used to predict CD4 count < 500 cells/mm3.
Both hair cortisol and cortisone levels were negatively associated with CD4 count but not with HIV viral load. The odds ratio for CD4 count < 500 cells/mm3 was 1.41 [95% CI 0.99–2.00] and 2.15 [95% CI 1.51–3.05] for those with hair cortisol and cortisone levels in the highest quartile compared to the lowest when controlling for sociodemographic, lifestyle, HIV-related covariates, and HIV viral load.
Hair glucocorticoid levels were associated with CD4 count but not viral load in treated Chinese PLHIV. Our data furtherly supported the hypothesis that elevated glucocorticoid levels are associated with the lower CD4 count.
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Published in BMC Infectious Diseases, Volume 22, Issue 268, 2022, pages 268-.
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Zhang, Q., Li, X., Qiao, S., Liu, S., Zhou, Y., & Shen, Z. (2022). The relationship of hair glucocorticoid levels to immunological and virological outcomes in a large cohort of combination antiretroviral therapy treated people living with HIV. BMC Infectious Diseases, 22(268). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-022-07257-x