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Endothelin-1 Predicts Hemodynamically Assessed Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension in HIV Infection



HIV infection is an independent risk factor for PAH, but the underlying pathogenesis remains unclear. ET-1 is a robust vasoconstrictor and key mediator of pulmonary vascular homeostasis. Higher levels of ET-1 predict disease severity and mortality in other forms of PAH, and endothelin receptor antagonists are central to treatment, including in HIV-associated PAH. The direct relationship between ET-1 and PAH in HIV-infected individuals is not well described.


We measured ET-1 and estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) with transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in 106 HIV-infected individuals. Participants with a PASP ≥ 30 mmHg (n = 65) underwent right heart catheterization (RHC) to definitively diagnose PAH. We conducted multivariable analysis to identify factors associated with PAH.


Among 106 HIV-infected participants, 80% were male, the median age was 52 years and 77% were on antiretroviral therapy. ET-1 was significantly associated with higher values of PASP [14% per 0.1 pg/mL increase in ET-1, p = 0.05] and PASP ≥ 30 mmHg [PR (prevalence ratio) = 1.24, p = 0.012] on TTE after multivariable adjustment for PAH risk factors. Similarly, among the 65 individuals who underwent RHC, ET-1 was significantly associated with higher values of mean pulmonary artery pressure and PAH (34%, p = 0.003 and PR = 2.43, p = 0.032, respectively) in the multivariable analyses.


Higher levels of ET-1 are independently associated with HIV-associated PAH as hemodynamically assessed by RHC. Our findings suggest that excessive ET-1 production in the setting of HIV infection impairs pulmonary endothelial function and contributes to the development of PAH.

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