Background: Mechanisms for increased cardiovascular risk in HIV-1-infected adults are incompletely understood, but platelet activation and immune activation leading to a prothrombotic state have been proposed as significant contributors. Aspirin has antiplatelet and immunomodulatory properties. We explored whether 1 week of low-dose aspirin attenuates platelet activation and immune activation in HIV-1-infected and virologically suppressed adults on antiretroviral therapy.
Methods: Platelet activation and immune activation were measured in HIV-1-infected subjects virologically suppressed on antiretroviral therapy and controls before and after 1 week of low-dose aspirin.
Results: Compared with control subjects, HIV-1-infected subjects had increased platelet activation, as measured by spontaneous platelet aggregation and aggregation in response to adenosine diphosphate, collagen, and arachidonic acid. After aspirin therapy, percent aggregation decreased similarly in both HIV-1-infected and control subjects to all platelet agonists tested except aggregation in response to arachidonic acid, which remained elevated in the HIV-1-infected group. HIV-1-infected subjects exhibited increased markers of T-cell activation (CD38 and HLA-DR) and monocyte activation (sCD14), which decreased after 1 week of aspirin therapy. Moreover, leukocyte responses to Toll-like receptor stimulation were enhanced after 1 week of aspirin therapy. In vitro studies showed that HIV-1 plasma could activate healthy platelets, which in turn activated monocytes, implicating a direct role for activated platelets in immune activation.
Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that heightened platelet activation and immune activation in treated HIV-1 disease are attenuated by 1 week of aspirin therapy. Aspirin should be further studied for its antithrombotic and immunomodulatory benefits in treated HIV-1 disease.