People with HIV show a significant acceleration of biological aging

HIV is the retrovirus responsible for AIDS and which also induces premature biological aging, according to a new study from the University of California at Los Angeles.

HIV virus

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HIV causes premature aging in those it infects and accelerates age-related biological DNA changes. The changes observed by the University of California researchers and their colleagues often occur within two to three years of infection and shorten the lifespan of HIV-positive people by about five years compared to healthy people.

HIV prematurely ages the body

“Our work shows that even in the first months and years of living with HIV, the virus has already begun a rapid process of DNA aging, said Elizabeth Crabb Breen, professor emeritus at UCLA. The genetic changes observed in the blood samples of the 102 male volunteers are of an epigenetic nature (DNA methylation), which means that they do not modify genes, but their expression.

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The virus has already initiated a rapid aging process in the DNA

The researchers analyzed five epigenetic markers of aging: four are “clocks” that assess the acceleration of biological aging, and the last is the length of telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes whose structure protects them from erosion.
Compared to samples of healthy volunteers of the same age and period, HIV-positive people show a significant acceleration of biological aging – between 1.9 and 4.8 years – and shorter telomeres only two to three years after the test. first infection.

These interesting observations have some limitations: the small number of participants – all male, predominantly white – does not allow the results to be generalized to women or ethnic minorities, who are also victims of HIV. The definition of age and the markers that indicate normal aging are still debated in the scientific community.

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References

Study shows HIV accelerates aging processes in the body soon after infection

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