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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Ophthalmology 1/2018

Elevated inflammatory cytokines in aqueous cytokine profile in HIV-1 infected patients with cataracts in Uganda

BMC Ophthalmology > Ausgabe 1/2018
Juliet Otiti-Sengeri, Robert Colebunders, Steven J. Reynolds, Musa Muwonge, Getrude Nakigozi, Valerian Kiggundu, Fred Nalugoda, Damalie Nakanjako



Cataracts occur earlier among HIV-infected adults and this is attributed to various intraocular inflammatory processes that result in early degeneration. In this study we purposed to investigate whether HIV infected individuals with cataracts develop heightened intraocular inflammatory processes compared to their HIV negative counterparts by determining the concentration of 8 cytokines in the aqueous humour of HIV-positive adults with cataracts and their HIV-negative counterparts.


A cross-sectional study was conducted among consecutive adults with cataracts that were operated in an ophthalmology surgical camp in western Uganda. We determined levels of Granulocyte macrophage stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 8 (IL-8), tumour necrotic factor alpha (TNF-a), interferon gamma (IFN-g), interleukin 4 (IL-4), interleukin 2 (IL-2), and interleukin (IL-10) in the aqueous fluid using a multiplexed cytokine analysis.
Data was entered in the SPSS version 10 and analyzed using STATA statistical software version 7.0. Categorical and continuous variables were compared using the χ2 test, Fisher’s exact test and the Student’s t-test. Bonferroni correction was used to cater for multiple comparison of p values for the various cytokines.


The 50 adults that underwent cataract surgery were outdoor peasants with similar exposure hours to UV radiation. The HIV-positive patients were younger {median age 43 years (SD 11.741)} compared to the HIV -negative patients {median age 66.5 years (SD 21.4)}. The mean CD4+ T cell count of the HIV-positive patients was 161 cells /mm3, and 12(48%) had started anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Pro inflammatory cytokines, GM-CSF, IL-8 and IL-10 were significantly higher among HIV-positive individuals (p = 0.001, 0.030, < 0.001 respectively). HIV-positive individuals on ART also showed significantly higher levels of GM-CSF, IL-8 and IL − 10 (p = 0.002, 0.021, < 0.001 respectively). TNF-a and IL-4 were significantly higher among those with a CD4+ T cell count greater than 200cells/mm3 compared to those with CD4+ T cell count less than 200 cells/mm3 (p = 0.022, 0.032 respectively).


Cataracts among HIV-positive adults were associated with higher intraocular inflammation relative to the healthy elderly individuals with cataracts. There is need to explore the potential role of intra-ocular anti-inflammatory agents in the management of cataracts among HIV positive patients.
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