Blood-Based Inflammation Biomarkers of Neurocognitive Impairment in People Living with HIV




Swanta, Naomi K.


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Race and sex minorities are disproportionately affected by HIV in the United States. Approximately 50% of people living with HIV (PLWH) experience HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). ART has decreased incidence of HAD but the less severe forms of HAND has increased. Diagnosis of HAND is challenging as the often-subtle forms of impairment are not as overt as dementia. HIV infection promotes neurocognitive dysfunction through persistent inflammation, which correlates with the severity of impairment. The objective of this study was to identify blood-based cytokines that associate with, and could predict, neurocognitive functioning in a demographically balanced cohort of PLWH. Inflammatory biomarkers of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment could improve current diagnosis methods and may be specific for populations disproportionately affected by the HIV. Seven neurocognitive domains were evaluated in 121 seropositive African American, Non-Hispanic White and White Hispanic men and women using computerized assessments. A panel of 26 inflammation-associated cytokines were measured in plasma and blood mononuclear cells. Significant associations among neurocognitive functioning and HIV-related parameters, relevant sociodemographic variables and cytokine panel were determined using multivariate and univariate regression analyses. Following corrections for education, CD4 T cell counts, viral load and eliminating outliers. Our results demonstrate that chemokine C-C motif ligand (CCL) 8 significantly correlated with memory, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, psychomotor speed, executive functioning and processing speed. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) significantly correlated with the aforementioned domains except memory and processing speed. In addition, interleukin (IL) - 23 significantly associated with executive functioning and processing speed. The biomarkers demonstrated a negative correlation to neurocognitive functioning. Race disparities were identified in memory and CCL8, furthermore, sex disparities were identified in executive functioning and TIMP-1. The plasma biomarkers were evaluated as predictive classifiers of neurocognitive functioning. Decision tree models for NCI and executive functioning predicted visit two at 67.2% accuracy. Collectively, these data identified blood-based inflammatory biomarkers of neurocognitive function with the potential to assist in the diagnosis of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairments in PLWH.