HIV patients responding to antiretroviral therapy (ART) have a high burden of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and display accelerated cardiovascular change assessed systemically. We assessed the effects of HIV, ART and CMV on retinal artery calibers (RAC), as a non-invasive measure of vasculopathy in HIV patients beginning ART. We analysed 79 HIV patients beginning ART in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a median (range) age of 31 (19-48) years. RAC was assessed using Image J software from fundus photos of both eyes, before ART (V0) and after 3-12 months (V3-V12). CMV DNA and antibodies were assessed. Systemic vascular pathology was assessed by carotid intima media thickness (cIMT). Multivariable models assessed which variables best predicted RAC values at V12. HIV patients had narrower retinal arteries and higher levels of CMV antibodies than healthy controls. RAC decreased over 12 months of ART (p < .0001). Right RAC correlated with CMV IE-1 antibody, while the left RAC at V3 correlated with cIMT. Multivariable models linked RAC at V12 with detectable HIV RNA at V12 and declared use of alcoholic drinks, while a smoking habit was protective. Decreases in RAC in HIV patients responding to ART suggest progressive microvascular change distinct from changes assessed in large vessels. Correlations with CMV IE-1 antibodies suggest the decline in RAC may be accelerated by frequent reactivations of CMV. This may be a feature of severe HIV disease before ART, confirmed by associations with high baseline HIV RNA in multivariable models. Links with alcohol consumption and smoking testify to a complex pattern of modifiable risk factors.
- anti-retroviral therapy
- retinal artery caliber