Menopause may increase immune activation in women with HIV
Postmenopausal women with HIV had higher levels of immune activation than premenopausal women with HIV, according to a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Persistent immune activation due to gut barrier dysfunction is a suspected cause of morbidity in HIV, but the impact of menopause on this pathway is unknown.

In 350 women with HIV from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, plasma biomarkers of gut barrier dysfunction (intestinal fatty acid binding protein; IFAB), innate immune activation (soluble CD14 and CD163; sCD14, sCD163), and systemic inflammation (interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor receptor 1; IL-6, TNFR1), were measured at 674 person-visits spanning less than 2 years.

-- Menopause (post- vs. pre-menopausal status) was associated with higher plasma sCD14 and sCD163 in linear mixed-effects regression adjusting for age and other covariates; but not with plasma IFAB, IL-6, or TNFR1.

-- In piece-wise linear mixed-effects regression of biomarkers on years before/after the final menstrual period, sCD14 increased during the menopausal transition by 250.71 ng/mL per year, but not in the pre-menopausal or post-menopausal periods.

Conclusively, in women with HIV, menopause may increase innate immune activation, but data did not support an influence on the gut barrier or inflammation. Clinical implications of immune activation during the menopausal transition warrants further investigation.