BackgroundChronic inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of depression in persons with HIV (PWH). Neopterin, a biomarker of HIV-related immune activation that partially normalizes with antiretroviral therapy (ART), correlates with major depressive disorder (MDD) and subclinical depressive symptoms in persons without HIV and acutely infected, young PWH. The sensitivity of neopterin, however, to both lifetime and current depression is poorly understood in older PWH on suppressive ART.
MethodsParticipants were 70 PWH and 35 persons without HIV (HIV-) who were at least 50 years old and completed standardized neurobehavioral and neuromedical assessments. Depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks, measured with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), and lifetime MDD diagnoses, defined as meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV criteria for a depressive episode at any point in one's lifetime, were separately modeled as a function of plasma neopterin levels in the full sample and by HIV serostatus.
ResultsCompared with HIV- adults, PWH had higher neopterin levels (P < 0.001) and BDI-II scores (P < 0.01) and were more likely to have lifetime MDD (P < 0.01). Higher neopterin related to lifetime MDD, but only in PWH, even after controlling for clinically relevant comorbidities and treatment factors in logistic regression (odds ratio = 3.11, P = 0.002). Higher neopterin correlated with higher BDI-II scores in the full sample (rs = 0.25; P = 0.010), but not within either group (PWH: rs = 0.03, P = 0.819; HIV-: rs = 0.09, P = 0.588).
ConclusionNeopterin was associated with lifetime MDD, but not current depressive symptoms in older PWH on suppressive ART. This may reflect a legacy of inflammation-related disruptions to amino acid metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis, similar to prior observations. Identification of biopsychosocial and resilience factors underlying the null association between neopterin and current depression in older PWH is warranted.