Effect of Statin Use on Inflammation and Immune Activation Biomarkers in HIV-Infected Persons on Effective Antiretroviral Therapy

Shehnaz K. Hussain, Asieh Golozar, Daniel P. Widney, Giovanna Rappocciolo, Sudhir Penugonda, Jay H. Bream, Otoniel Martínez-Maza, Lisa P. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune activation and inflammation are hallmarks of chronic HIV infection and are etiologically linked to major causes of morbidity and mortality among HIV-infected persons, including coronary artery disease and cancer. Systemic immune activation is dampened, but not resolved, with use of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Statins are cardioprotective drugs that also appear to have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. We sought to understand the association between statin use, cART, and levels of circulating immune markers in a longitudinal cohort study. From 2004 to 2009, statin use was ascertained in male participants of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) using interviewer-administered questionnaires. Twenty-four circulating markers of immune activation and inflammation were measured in archived serial samples from a subset of cohort members using multiplex assays. Propensity-adjusted generalized gamma models were used to compare biomarkers' distributions by statin use, and multivariable linear regression models were used to assess the effect of initiating statin on these biomarkers. Overall, 1,031 cART-exposed individuals with HIV infection were included in this study. Statin use was reported by 31.5% of cART-exposed participants. Compared to nonstatin users on cART, statin users on cART had lower levels of IP-10, IL-10, and IL-12p70, and the effect of statin use was decreased in participants using lipophilic statins (atorvastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin, or lovastatin); these results were statistically significant (p < .05). Among cART users not on aspirin, starting statins decreased levels of high sensitivity c-reactive protein (hsCRP), IL-12p70, and IL-6. Statin therapy is associated with reduced levels of certain biomarkers of immune activation and inflammation in cART users, which may contribute to a lower burden of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalAIDS research and human retroviruses
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • HIV
  • cytokine
  • immune activation
  • inflammation
  • statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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