Blood-based inflammation biomarkers of neurocognitive impairment in people living with HIV

Naomi Swanta, Subhash Aryal, Vicki Nejtek, Sangeeta Shenoy, Anuja Ghorpade, Kathleen Borgmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Inflammation in people living with HIV (PLWH) correlates with severity of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. The objective of this study is to identify blood-based markers of neurocognitive function in a demographic balanced cohort of PLWH. Seven neurocognitive domains were evaluated in 121 seropositive Black/African American, Non-Hispanic White, and White Hispanic men and women using computerized assessments. Associations among standardized neurocognitive function and HIV-related parameters, relevant sociodemographic variables, and inflammation-associated cytokines measured in plasma and cellular supernatants were examined using multivariate and univariate regression models. Outlier and covariate analyses were used to identify and normalize for education level, CD4 T cell count, viral load, CNS and drug abuse comorbidities, which could influence biomarker and neurocognitive function associations. Plasma levels of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand (CCL) 8 significantly associated with memory, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, psychomotor speed, executive function, and processing speed. Plasma tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1 associated with the aforementioned domains except memory and processing speed. In addition, plasma interleukin-23 significantly associated with processing speed and executive function. Analysis of peripheral blood cell culture supernatants revealed no significant markers for neurocognitive function. In this cohort, CD4 T cell count and education level also significantly associated with neurocognitive function. All identified inflammatory biomarkers demonstrated a negative correlation to neurocognitive function. These cytokines have known connections to HIV pathophysiology and are potential biomarkers for neurocognitive function in PLWH with promising clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-370
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • CNS
  • Chronic immune activation
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND)
  • Health disparities


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