Abdominal obesity contributes to neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected patients with increased inflammation and immune activation


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Objective: We tested our hypothesis that abdominal obesity when associated with increased levels of systemic and central nervous system immunoinflammatory mediators contributes to neurocognitive impairment (NCI). Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Six Academic Centers. Participants: One hundred fifty-two patients with plasma HIV RNA <1000 copies per milliliter had clinical evaluations and cognitive function quantified by global deficit scores (GDS). Outcome Measures: GDS, waist circumference (WC) and plasma IL-6, sCD163, and sCD14 and CSF sCD40L, sTNFrII, MCP-1, sICAM, and MMP-9. Results: WC and plasma IL-6 levels positively correlated with GDS; the WC correlation was strongest in the high tertile of IL-6 (ρ 0.39, P 0.005). IL-6 correlated with GDS only if WC was ≥99 cm. In the high tertile of CSF sCD40L, a biomarker of macrophage and microglial activation, the correlation of IL-6 to GDS was strongest (ρ 0.60, P < 0.0001). Across 3-5 visits within ±1 year of the index visit, GDS remained worse in patients with IL-6 levels in the high versus low tertile (P 0.02). Path analysis to explore potential mediators of NCI produced a strong integrated model for patients in the high CSF sCD40L tertile. In this model, WC affected GDS both directly and through a second path that was mediated by IL-6. Inclusion of plasma sCD14 levels strengthened the model. NCI was more common in men and for individuals with components of the metabolic syndrome. Conclusions: Neurocognitive function was significantly linked to abdominal obesity, systemic inflammation (high IL-6), and immune activation in plasma (high sCD14) and CSF (high sCD40L). Abdominal obesity, inflammation, and central nervous system immune activation are potential therapeutic targets for NCI in HIV-positive patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder
  • abdominal obesity
  • global deficit score
  • inflammation and immune activation
  • sCD14
  • sCD40L


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