HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders remain common despite use of potent antiretroviral therapy (ART). Ongoing viral replication due to poor distribution of antivirals into the CNS may increase risk for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. This study's objective was to determine penetration of a commonly prescribed antiretroviral drug, efavirenz, into CSF.
CHARTER is an ongoing, North American, multicentre, observational study to determine the effects of ART on HIV-associated neurological disease. Single random plasma and CSF samples were drawn within 1 h of each other from subjects taking efavirenz between September 2003 and July 2007. Samples were assayed by HPLC or HPLC/mass spectrometry with detection limits of 39 ng/mL (plasma) and <0.1 ng/mL (CSF).
Eighty participants (age 44 ± 8 years; 79 ± 15 kg; 20 females) had samples drawn 12.5 ± 5.4 h post-dose. The median efavirenz concentrations after a median of 7 months [interquartile range (IQR) 2–17] of therapy were 2145 ng/mL in plasma (IQR 1384–4423) and 13.9 ng/mL in CSF (IQR 4.1–21.2). The CSF/plasma concentration ratio from paired samples drawn within 1 h of each other was 0.005 (IQR 0.0026–0.0076; n = 69). The CSF/IC50 ratio was 26 (IQR 8–41) using the published IC50 for wild-type HIV (0.51 ng/mL). Two CSF samples had concentrations below the efavirenz IC50 for wild-type HIV.
Efavirenz concentrations in the CSF are only 0.5% of plasma concentrations but exceed the wild-type IC50 in nearly all individuals. Since CSF drug concentrations reflect those in brain interstitial fluids, efavirenz reaches therapeutic concentrations in brain tissue.
CNS; pharmacology; non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
Binge drinking is common among adolescents. Alcohol use, and binge-drinking in particular, has been associated with neurocognitive deficits as well as risk-taking behaviors, which may contribute to negative driving outcomes among adolescents even while sober.
To examine differences in self-reported driving behaviors between adolescent binge-drinkers and a matched sample of controls, including (a) compliance with graduated licensing laws, (b) high risk driving behaviors, and (c) driving outcomes (crashes, traffic tickets).
The present study examined driving behaviors and outcomes in adolescent recent binge drinkers (n=21) and demographically and driving history matched controls (n=17), ages 16-18.
Binge drinkers more frequently violated graduated licensing laws (e.g., driving late at night), and engaged in more “high risk” driving behaviors, such as speeding and using a cell-phone while driving. Binge drinkers had more traffic tickets, crashes and “near crashes” than the control group. In a multivariate analysis, binge drinker status and speeding were the most robust predictors of a crash.
Binge drinking teens consistently engage in more dangerous driving behaviors and experience more frequent crashes and traffic tickets. They are also less compliant with preventative restrictions placed on youth while they are learning critical safe driving skills.
These findings highlight a need to examine the contribution of underlying traits (such as sensation seeking) and binge-related cognitive changes to these high-risk driving behaviors, which may assist researchers in establishing alternative prevention and policy efforts targeting this population.
adolescent alcohol use; graduated licensing laws; risky driving
Among English-speaking adults, HIV-associated neuropsychological (NP) impairments have been associated with problems in everyday functioning, including ability to function at work and drive an automobile. Latinos account for a disproportionate number of HIV/AIDS cases nationwide, and a significant segment of this population is primarily Spanish speaking. We have previously developed an assessment that evaluates English-speakers on a variety of instrumental activities of daily living. In this pilot study, we used Spanish-language translations of our functional battery to investigate the cultural relevance of such measures, and to explore relationships between NP status and ability to perform important everyday tasks in HIV-infected Spanish-speakers. Sixteen HIV-infected monolingual Spanish-speaking adults received comprehensive, Spanish language NP testing and functional assessments included the following domains: Medication Management, Cooking, Finances, Shopping, and Restaurant Scenario. Results revealed that most of the functional tasks appeared culturally relevant and appropriate with minor modifications. NP-impaired participants were significantly more functionally impaired compared to NP-normals (88% vs. 13%, p<.01). Performances on the functional assessment and the NP battery were also related to indicators of real world functioning, including employment status and quality of life. These results, though preliminary, suggest that Spanish language functional assessments are potentially valid tools for detecting everyday functioning deficits associated with NP impairments in HIV-infected Spanish-speakers.
Apathy is a relatively common clinical feature of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders, but little is known about its implications for everyday functioning outcomes. In the present study, we examined the associations between apathy and self-reported instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and neurocognitive complaints in 75 participants with HIV infection and 52 demographically comparable seronegative comparison subjects. All volunteers completed the apathy subscale of the Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale as part of a comprehensive neuromedical, psychiatric, and neurocognitive research evaluation. When compared with the seronegative comparison participants, the HIV+ group reported significantly higher current levels of apathy, but did not differ in self-report of prior (i.e., pre-seroconversion) apathy. Higher current apathy self-ratings were associated with greater severity of IADL declines and more numerous cognitive complaints in the HIV+ sample, even after adjusting for potential psychiatric (e.g., depression), medical (e.g., hepatitis C co-infection), and neurocognitive predictors. Cognitive complaints, but not IADLs, were also uniquely associated with ratings of executive dysfunction and disinhibition. All told, these findings suggest that apathy may make a unique contribution to important everyday functioning outcomes among persons living with HIV infection. The clinical detection of apathy may help identify HIV-infected individuals at particular risk for functional impairments who may require additional support to maintain independence.
HIV/AIDS; Activities of daily living; Apathy; Everyday functioning
Depression frequently co-occurs with HIV infection and can result in self-reported overestimates of cognitive deficits. Conversely, genuine cognitive dysfunction can lead to an under-appreciation of cognitive deficits. The degree to which depression and cognition influence self-report of capacity for instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) requires further investigation. This study examined the effects of depression and cognitive deficits on self-appraisal of functional competence among 107 HIV-infected adults. As hypothesized, higher levels of depression were found among those who over-reported problems in medication management, driving, and cognition when compared to those who under-reported or provided accurate self-assessments. In contrast, genuine cognitive dysfunction was predictive of under-reporting of functional deficits. Together, these results suggest that over-reliance on self-reported functional status poses risk for error when diagnoses require documentation of both cognitive impairment and associated functional disability in everyday life.
Depression; Self-report; Functional ability; Cognition; HIV
The present study aimed to examine if bilingualism affects executive functions and verbal fluency in Marathi and Hindi, two major languages in India, with a considerable cognate (e.g., activity is actividad in Spanish) overlap. A total of 174 native Marathi speakers from Pune, India, with varying levels of Hindi proficiency were administered tests of executive functioning and verbal performance in Marathi. A bilingualism index was generated using self-reported Hindi and Marathi proficiency. After controlling for demographic variables, the association between bilingualism and cognitive performance was examined. Degree of bilingualism predicted better performance on the switching (Color Trails-2) and inhibition (Stroop Color-Word) components of executive functioning; but not for the abstraction component (Halstead Category Test). In the verbal domain, bilingualism was more closely associated with noun generation (where the languages share many cognates) than verb generation (which are more disparate across these languages), as predicted. However, contrary to our hypothesis that the bilingualism “disadvantage” would be attenuated on noun generation, bilingualism was associated with an advantage on these measures. These findings suggest distinct patterns of bilingualism effects on cognition for this previously unexamined language pair, and that the rate of cognates may modulate the association between bilingualism and verbal performance on neuropsychological tests.
Multilingualism; Neuropsychological tests; India; Adult; Executive functions; Cognition
To describe a severe form of demyelinating HIV-associated leukoencephalopathy in AIDS patients failing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), its relationship to clinical and neuroimaging findings, and suggest hypotheses regarding pathogenesis.
Design and methods
AIDS patients who failed HAART and displayed severe leukoencephalopathy were included. All cases had detailed neuromedical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and postmortem neuropathological examination. Immunocytochemical and PCR analyses were performed to determine brain HIV levels and to exclude other viruses.
Seven recent autopsy cases of leukoencephalopathy in antiretroviral-experienced patients with AIDS were identified. Clinically, all were severely immunosuppressed, six (86%) had poorly controlled HIV replication despite combination antiretroviral therapy, and five (71%) had HIV-associated dementia. Neuropathologically, all seven had intense perivascular infiltration by HIV-gp41 immunoreactive monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes, widespread myelin loss, axonal injury, microgliosis and astrogliosis. The extent of damage exceeds that described prior to the use of HAART. Brain tissue demonstrated high levels of HIV RNA but evidence of other pathogens, such as JC virus, Epstein–Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus type-8, and herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, was absent. Comparison of the stages of pathology suggests a temporal sequence of events. In this model, white matter damage begins with perivascular infiltration by HIV-infected monocytes, which may occur as a consequence of antiretroviral-associated immune restoration. Intense infiltration by immune cells injures brain endothelial cells and is followed by myelin loss, axonal damage, and finally, astrogliosis.
Taken together, our findings provide evidence for the emergence of a severe form of HIV-associated leukoencephalopathy. This condition warrants further study and increased vigilance among those who provide care for HIV-infected individuals.
HIV leukoencephalopathy; antiretroviral therapy
Script generation describes one’s ability to produce complex, sequential action plans derived from mental representations of everyday activities. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of HIV infection on script generation performance. Sixty HIV+ individuals (48% of whom had HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders [HAND]) and 26 demographically comparable HIV− participants were administered a novel, standardized test of script generation, which required participants to verbally generate and organize the necessary steps for completing six daily activities. HAND participants evidenced significantly more total errors, intrusions, and script boundary errors compared to the HIV-sample, indicating difficulties inhibiting irrelevant actions and staying within the prescribed boundaries of scripts, but had adequate knowledge of the relevant actions required for each script. These findings are generally consistent with the executive dysfunction and slowing common in HAND and suggest that script generation may play a role in everyday functioning problems in HIV.
Human immunodeficiency virus; cognition; neuropsychology; activities of daily living; executive functions; frontal lobes
Spasticity is a common and poorly controlled symptom of multiple sclerosis. Our objective was to determine the short-term effect of smoked cannabis on this symptom.
We conducted a placebo-controlled, crossover trial involving adult patients with multiple sclerosis and spasticity. We recruited participants from a regional clinic or by referral from specialists. We randomly assigned participants to either the intervention (smoked cannabis, once daily for three days) or control (identical placebo cigarettes, once daily for three days). Each participant was assessed daily before and after treatment. After a washout interval of 11 days, participants crossed over to the opposite group. Our primary outcome was change in spasticity as measured by patient score on the modified Ashworth scale. Our secondary outcomes included patients’ perception of pain (as measured using a visual analogue scale), a timed walk and changes in cognitive function (as measured by patient performance on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test), in addition to ratings of fatigue.
Thirty-seven participants were randomized at the start of the study, 30 of whom completed the trial. Treatment with smoked cannabis resulted in a reduction in patient scores on the modified Ashworth scale by an average of 2.74 points more than placebo (p < 0.0001). In addition, treatment reduced pain scores on a visual analogue scale by an average of 5.28 points more than placebo (p = 0.008). Scores for the timed walk did not differ significantly between treatment and placebo (p = 0.2). Scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test decreased by 8.67 points more with treatment than with placebo (p = 0.003). No serious adverse events occurred during the trial.
Smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in participants with treatment-resistant spasticity. Future studies should examine whether different doses can result in similar beneficial effects with less cognitive impact.
A subset of individuals with HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment experience related deficits in “real world” functioning (i.e., independently performing instrumental activities of daily living [IADL]). While performance-based tests of everyday functioning are reasonably sensitive to HIV-associated IADL declines, questions remain regarding the extent to which these tests’ highly structured nature fully captures the inherent complexities of daily life. The aim of this study was to assess the predictive and ecological validity of a novel multitasking measure in HIV infection.
Participants included 60 individuals with HIV infection (HIV+) and 25 demographically comparable seronegative adults (HIV−). Participants were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, questionnaires assessing mood and everyday functioning, and a novel standardized test of multitasking, which involved balancing the demands of four interconnected performance-based functional tasks (i.e., financial management, cooking, medication management, and telephone communication).
HIV+ individuals demonstrated significantly worse overall performance, fewer simultaneous task attempts, and increased errors on the multitasking test as compared to the HIV− sample. Within the HIV+ sample, multitasking impairments were modestly associated with deficits on standard neuropsychological measures of executive functions, episodic memory, attention/working memory, and information processing speed, providing preliminary evidence for convergent validity. More importantly, multivariate prediction models revealed that multitasking deficits were uniquely predictive of IADL dependence beyond the effects of depression and global neurocognitive impairment, with excellent sensitivity (86%), but modest specificity (57%).
Taken together, these data indicate that multitasking ability may play an important role in successful everyday functioning in HIV+ individuals.
HIV; cognition; neuropsychology; activities of daily living; executive functions
China’s HIV epidemic commenced in its agrarian provinces through contaminated commercial plasma donation centers and is now becoming a public health concern nationwide. Little is known of the psychiatric and substance use disorder characteristics of this population, or their impact on everyday function, employment, and life quality.
HIV infected (HIV+) former plasma donors (N = 203) and HIV-negative (HIV-) donor controls (N = 198) completed the World Mental Health Survey Composite International Diagnostic Interview to determine lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD), substance use disorders, and suicidality. Current mood and suicidality were assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II. Everyday function was measured by an Activity of Daily Living questionnaire; life quality was evaluated by the Medical Outcomes Study-HIV.
According to the multi-process theory of prospective memory (ProM), time-based tasks rely more heavily on strategic processes dependent on prefrontal systems than do event-based tasks. Given the prominent frontostriatal pathophysiology of HIV infection, one would expect HIV-infected individuals to demonstrate greater deficits in time-based versus event-based ProM. However, the two prior studies examining this question have produced variable results. We evaluated this hypothesis in 143 individuals with HIV infection and 43 demographically similar seronegative adults (HIV−) who completed the research version of the Memory for Intentions Screening Test, which yields parallel subscales of time- and event-based ProM. Results showed main effects of HIV serostatus and cue type, but no interaction between serostatus and cue. Planned pair-wise comparisons showed a significant effect of HIV on time-based ProM and a trend-level effect on event-based ProM that was driven primarily by the subset of participants with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Nevertheless, time-based ProM was more strongly correlated with measures of executive functions, attention/working memory, and verbal fluency in HIV-infected persons. Although HIV-associated deficits in time- and event-based ProM appear to be of comparable severity, the cognitive architecture of time-based ProM may be more strongly influenced by strategic monitoring and retrieval processes.
AIDS dementia complex; Episodic memory; Executive functions; Neuropsychological assessment
In May 2012, the Division of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) organized the “Global NeuroAIDS Roundtable” in conjunction with the 11th International Symposium on Neurovirology and the 2012 Conference on HIV in the Nervous System. The meeting was held in New York, NY, USA and brought together NIMH-funded investigators who are currently working on projects related to the neurological complications of AIDS (NeuroAIDS) in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America in order to provide an opportunity to share their recent findings and discuss the challenges encountered within each country. The major goals of the roundtable were to evaluate HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment and determine if it may be directly attributable to distinct HIV subtypes or clades and to discuss the future priorities for global NeuroAIDS research. At the “Global NeuroAIDS Roundtable”, presentations of preliminary research indicated that HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment is prevalent in all countries examined regardless of which HIV clade is present in the region. The only clear-cut difference between HIV-1 clades was in relation to subtypes A and D in Uganda. However, a key point that emerged from the discussions was that there is an urgent need to standardize neurocognitive assessment methodologies across the globe before definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding the relationship between HIV clade diversity and neuropathogenesis. Future research directions were also discussed at the roundtable with particular emphasis on the potential of viral and host factor molecular interactions to impact the pathophysiology of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) from a global perspective.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2); Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); HIV clade; NeuroAIDS; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND); Neuropathogenesis
The HIV epidemic in China has expanded rapidly in recent years, but little is known about the prevalence and features of HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HANDs) in this part of the world. We administered a comprehensive Western neuropsychological (NP) test battery to 203 HIV+ and 198 HIV-former plasma donors in the rural area of Anhui province. We found that 26% in the HIV- sample, and 46% in the HIV+ sample were infected with HCV, which can also have CNS effects. To classify NP impairment, we developed demographically corrected test norms based upon individuals free of both infections (N=141). Using a global summary score, NP impairment was found in 34.2% of the HIV mono-infected group and 39.7% of the co-infected group, as compared to 12.7% of the uninfected controls (p<.001). HIV+ participants with AIDS were more likely to be impaired (43%) than non-AIDS individuals (29%, p<.05). Lastly, when all infection groups were combined, participants with NP impairment reported more cognitive complaints (p<.01) and increased dependence in everyday functioning (p=.01). In sum, NP impairment in this large rural Chinese sample was associated with both HIV and HCV infections, and the impairment's prevalence, severity, and pattern were similar to those reported by Western studies. Clinical significance of NP impairment in this population is suggested by the participants’ reports of reduced everyday functioning. These findings indicate that HAND is likely to be an important feature of HIV infection in developing countries, underscoring the need for international efforts to develop CNS relevant treatments.
HIV; HCV; neurocognitive disorders; China
The HIV epidemic in China has been increasing exponentially, yet there have been no studies of the neurobehavioral effects of HIV infection in that country. Most neuroAIDS research has been conducted in Western countries using Western neuropsychological (NP) methods, and it is unclear whether these testing methods are appropriate for use in China. Twenty-eight HIV seropositive (HIV+) and twenty-three HIV seronegative (HIV−) individuals with comparable gender, age, and education distributions were recruited in Beijing and the rural Anhui province in China. Thirty-nine HIV+ and thirty-one HIV− individuals were selected from a larger U.S. cohort recruited at the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, in San Diego, to be matched to the Chinese sample for age, disease status, and treatment variables. The NP test battery used with the U.S. and China cohorts included instruments widely used to study HIV infection in the United States. It consisted of 14 individual test measures, each assigned to one of seven ability areas thought to be especially vulnerable to effects of HIV on the brain (i.e., verbal fluency, abstraction/executive function, speed of information processing, working memory, learning, delayed recall, and motor function). To explore the cross-cultural equivalence and validity of the NP measures, we compared our Chinese and U.S. samples on the individual tests, as well as mean scaled scores for the total battery and seven ability domains. On each NP test measure, the mean of the Chinese HIV+ group was worse than that of the HIV−group. A series of 2 × 2 analyses of variance involving HIV+ and HIV− groups from both countries revealed highly significant HIV effects on the Global and all Domain mean scaled scores. Country effects appeared on two of the individual ability areas, at least partly due to education differences between the two countries. Importantly, the absence of HIV-by-Country interactions suggests that the NP effects of HIV are similar in the two countries. The NP test battery that was chosen and adapted for use in this study of HIV in China appears to have good cross-cultural equivalence, but appropriate Chinese norms will be needed to identify disease-related impairment in individual Chinese people. To inform the development of such norms, a much larger study of demographic effects will be needed, especially considering the wide range of education in that country.
HIV/AIDS; Neuropsychological functioning; Cognition; China; Cross-cultural assessment; Everyday functioning
To determine the relationship between AIDS retinal cotton wool spots (CWS) and neuropsychological impairment in HIV-positive individuals in the pre-HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) era and the association between AIDS-related retinal CWS and neuropsychological impairment in HIV-positive patients not treated with HAART.
A case-control analysis of prospectively acquired data in HIV-infected individuals who underwent prospective and longitudinal evaluations of retinal findings as well as neuropsychological testing was performed. Individuals underwent prospective retinal ophthalmic examinations with fundus photography of any retinal lesions. They also underwent periodic neuropsychological testing. The occurrence of retinal CWS was analyzed in relationship to neuropsychological impairment.
Thirty individuals with CWS were compared to 60 matched control AIDS patients. There was no association between either global clinical neuropsychological impairment or impairment in any of the five major domains tested and retinal CWS. There was an association between beta-2 microglobulin and CWS as well as an association between low CD4 T-cell count and the presence of retinal CWS.
We found no association between retinovascular disease and neurocognitive impairment in this case-control study. Retinal CWS in HIV disease are related to higher serum beta-2 microglobulin levels and lower CD4 T-cell counts, suggesting that these lesions are related to HIV disease progression but may be caused by a pathological process independent of CNS disease.
AIDS retinopathy; cotton wool spots; dementia; neuropsychology; vision loss
Since HIV-1 Tat has been associated with neurocognitive dysfunction, we investigated 60 HIV-1 subtype B infected individuals who were characterized for neurocognitive functioning and had paired CSF and blood plasma samples available. To avoid issues with repeated sampling, we generated population-based HIV-1 tat sequences from each compartment and evaluated these data using a battery of phylogenetic, statistical and machine learning tools. These analyses identified position HXB2 5905 within the cysteine-rich domain of tat as a signature of CSF-derived HIV-1, and a higher number of mixed bases in CSF, measure of diversity, was associated with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder. Since identified mutations were synonymous, we evaluated the predicted secondary RNA structures, which showed that this mutation altered secondary structure. As a measure of divergence, the genetic distance between the blood and CSF derived tat was inversely correlated with current and nadir CD4+ T cell counts. These data suggest that specific HIV-1 features of tat influence neurotropism and neurocognitive impairment.
HIV; central nervous system; tat; compartmentalization
Combination antiretroviral therapy (CART) has greatly reduced medical morbidity and mortality with HIV infection, but high rates of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) continue to be reported. Because large HIV-infected (HIV+) and uninfected (HIV−) groups have not been studied with similar methods in the pre-CART and CART eras, it is unclear whether CART has changed the prevalence, nature, and clinical correlates of HAND. We used comparable methods of subject screening and assessments to classify neurocognitive impairment (NCI) in large groups of HIV + and HIV − participants from the pre-CART era (1988–1995; N = 857) and CART era (2000–2007; N = 937). Impairment rate increased with successive disease stages (CDC stages A, B, and C) in both eras: 25%, 42%, and 52% in pre-CART era and 36%, 40%, and 45% in CART era. In the medically asymptomatic stage (CDC-A), NCI was significantly more common in the CART era. Low nadir CD4 predicted NCI in both eras, whereas degree of current immunosuppression, estimated duration of infection, and viral suppression in CSF (on treatment) were related to impairment only pre-CART. Pattern of NCI also differed: pre-CART had more impairment in motor skills, cognitive speed, and verbal fluency, whereas CART era involved more memory (learning) and executive function impairment. High rates of mild NCI persist at all stages of HIV infection, despite improved viral suppression and immune reconstitution with CART. The consistent association of NCI with nadir CD4 across eras suggests that earlier treatment to prevent severe immunosuppression may also help prevent HAND. Clinical trials targeting HAND prevention should specifically examine timing of ART initiation.
HIV; Combination antiretroviral therapy; HIV dementia