Background: Chronic infection by HIV evolves with a vascular inflammatory action
causing endothelial dysfunction. The action of the virus, as well as the side effects of antiretroviral
drugs, contribute to the progression of cardiovascular diseases. The present study aimed to evaluate
the percentage of collagen fibers and the density of mast cells, chymase and tryptase, in aortas of
patients with and without HIV, and also patients with and without atherosclerosis.
Methods: Aortic fragments were obtained from autopsied patients aged 22-69 years and selected regardless
of the cause of death or underlying disease. The samples were divided into four groups,
(1) Group with HIV and with atherosclerosis; (2) Group with HIV and without atherosclerosis; (3)
Group without HIV and with atherosclerosis; (4) Group without HIV and without atherosclerosis
(Control). The percentage of collagen fibers was analyzed in the intima-media layer and the density
of mast cells was analyzed in all aortic layers. Graphpad Prism 5.0® software was used for statistical
Results: There were more collagen fibers in HIV patients, with or without atherosclerosis. The
group with HIV and atherosclerosis presented a higher density of chymase and tryptase mast cells.
The correlation between collagen fibers and age was negative in the non-HIV group and with
Conclusion: The inflammatory process resulting from HIV infection may be relevant in the alteration
of aortic collagen fibers and in triggering or accelerating atherosclerosis. The study is important
because HIV patients have increased risks for the development of cardiovascular diseases, and
follow-up is necessary to prevent such diseases.