People living with HIV (PLWH) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) are at increased risk of atherosclerotic disease. Abnormal adipose distribution is common in PLWH and may contribute to atherosclerosis. Because coronary artery endothelial function (CEF) is impaired in early atherosclerosis, predicts future cardiovascular events, and is reduced in PLWH, we investigated associations between body fat distribution and CEF in PLWH.
Prospective cohort study.
PLWH on stable ART underwent MRI to quantify CEF, measured as change in coronary cross-sectional area from rest to that during isometric handgrip exercise, an endothelial-dependent stressor. Abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat area (axial L4 level) and liver fat fraction were quantified using MRI. Linear regression was used to determine associations between CEF and independent variables.
Among 84 PLWH (52 ± 11 years; 33% women), mean cross-sectional area change was 0.74 ± 11.7%, indicating impaired CEF. On univariable regression analysis, CEF was inversely related to waist circumference (R = −0.31, P = 0.014), hip circumference (R = −0.27, P = 0.037), and subcutaneous fat area (R = −0.25, P = 0.031). We did not observe significant relationships between CEF and liver fat fraction, waist/hip ratio, or visceral fat area. On multivariable regression adjusted for age, sex, and race, CEF was associated with waist circumference, hip circumference, subcutaneous fat, and liver fat fraction.
Waist and hip circumference and subcutaneous fat area are associated with impaired CEF, an established metric of abnormal vascular health in PLWH on stable ART, and may contribute to the increased rate of heart disease in this population.