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Monocyte Activation Is Associated With Worse Cognitive Performance in HIV-Infected Women With Virologic Suppression



 Cognitive impairment persists despite suppression of plasma human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA. Monocyte-related immune activation is a likely mechanism. We examined immune activation and cognition in a cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected women from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS).


 Blood levels of activation markers, soluble CD163 (sCD163), soluble CD14 (sCD14), CRP, IL-6, and a gut microbial translocation marker (intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP)) were measured in 253 women (73% HIV-infected). Markers were compared to concurrent (within ± one semiannual visit) neuropsychological testing performance.


 Higher sCD163 levels were associated with worse overall performance and worse verbal learning, verbal memory, executive function, psychomotor speed, and fine motor skills (P < .05 for all comparisons). Higher sCD14 levels were associated with worse verbal learning, verbal memory, executive function, and psychomotor speed (P < .05 for all comparisons). Among women with virological suppression, sCD163 remained associated with overall performance, verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and fine motor skills, and sCD164 remained associated with executive function (P < .05 for all comparisons). CRP, IL-6, and I-FABP were not associated with worse cognitive performance.


 Monocyte activation was associated with worse cognitive performance, and associations persisted despite viral suppression. Persistent inflammatory mechanisms related to monocytes correlate to clinically pertinent brain outcomes.

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