HIV is associated with impaired pulmonary diffusing capacity independent of emphysema

Sarath Raju, Jacquie Astemborski, Michael Drummond, Md Bradley, Hema C. Ramamurthi, Jing Sun, Robert H. Brown, Gregory D. Kirk, Meredith C. McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: HIV is associated with accelerated decline in lung function and increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recently, there has been growing attention toward the impairment in the diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide (DLCO), a marker of pulmonary gas exchange, observed among persons living with HIV. Although increased emphysema can contribute to the DLCO impairment observed, other factors may drive this association. Methods: Using cross-sectional data from the Study of HIV in the Etiology of Lung Disease, we studied the association between HIV and DLCO independent of emphysema. We also analyzed the joint influence of HIV and COPD on DLCO impairment. An analysis was conducted among 339 participants (229 with HIV) with lung function and chest CT imaging data. Multivariable regression models were generated with percent predicted DLCO and odds of DLCO impairment as outcomes. Results: After adjusting for confounders, including emphysema severity, HIV was associated with lower DLCO (β -4.02%; P = 0.020) and higher odds of DLCO impairment (odds ratio 1.93; P = 0.017). Even among those without COPD, HIV was independently associated with lower DLCO (β -3.89%; P = 0.049). Compared with HIV-uninfected participants without COPD, those with both HIV and COPD experienced the greatest impairment in DLCO (β -14.81; P < 0.001). Conclusions: HIV is associated with impaired pulmonary gas exchange independent of emphysema severity. Our data also suggest a potentially additive influence between HIV and COPD on DLCO impairment. Further studies should investigate the other factors, including pulmonary vascular disease, which may contribute to DLCO impairment among persons living with HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Comorbidities
  • Emphysema
  • Lung disease
  • Pulmonary function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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