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J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care. 2014 Sep-Oct;13(5):454-60. doi: 10.1177/2325957414535253. Epub 2014 May 16.

Beyond the Brain: The Role of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Viroimmune Responses to Antiretroviral Therapy among People Living with HIV with and without Alcohol Use.

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School of Integrated Science and Humanity, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
Department of Medicine, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA.
School of Integrated Science and Humanity, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA.
Departments of Epidemiology and Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA.



Given the emerging data suggesting the key role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the immune system, we assessed longitudinally whether BDNF depletions induced by hazardous alcohol use (HAU) would impact a response to antiretroviral therapy (ART).


In a prospective single-site cohort, virological and immunological responses to ART in 200 hazardous and 200 nonhazardous users were obtained, along with plasma BDNF levels.


Hazardous drinkers were more likely to have BDNF levels <4000 pg/mL (odds ratio [OR] = 1.6, P = .01). Participants with BDNF <4000 pg/mL were less likely to have CD4 counts of more than 500 cells/mm(3) (P = .02) and to achieve viral suppression over the follow-up period (OR = 1.5, P = .03). Multivariate analysis confirmed the significant role of HAU and low BDNF in predicting viroimmune responses.


Hazardous alcohol use was associated with BDNF alterations, which in turn were linked to a limited response to ART in terms of viral suppression and CD4 count improvements.


BDNF; CD4; HIV/AIDS; alcohol; viral load

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