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Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 25;5:17094. doi: 10.1038/srep17094.

Circulating HIV DNA Correlates With Neurocognitive Impairment in Older HIV-infected Adults on Suppressive ART.

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University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA.
Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA.
University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA.


Older HIV-infected adults have a higher risk of neurocognitive impairment, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the associations between levels of HIV DNA in peripheral blood, soluble markers of inflammation and cellular trafficking in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neurocognitive functioning among 18 younger (22-40 years) and 26 older (50-71 years) HIV-infected subjects, who were administered a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. Older HIV-infected individuals presented higher levels of inflammation in CSF and blood compared to younger individuals, but no difference was observed in HIV DNA levels. Among older participants, higher HIV DNA levels were significantly associated with more severe neurocognitive impairment (p = 0.005), particularly in the Executive Functions domain (p = 0.004). No association was observed between HIV DNA and neurocognition among younger individuals. Despite significantly increased inflammation observed in the older group, none of the inflammatory markers were associated with neurocognitive impairment among older HIV+ individuals (p > 0.05). Our study supports the involvement of peripheral HIV DNA reservoir in the pathogenesis of neurocognitive disorder during suppressive ART. Correlates of neurocognitive impairment might differ between younger and older adults, suggesting that future treatment and prevention strategies for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders likely need to be tailored based on age.

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