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Mounting evidence indicates that vascular risk factors (VRFs) are elevated in HIV and play a significant role in the development and persistence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder. Given the increased longevity of people living with HIV (PLWH), there is a great need to better elucidate vascular contributions to neurocognitive impairment in HIV. This systematic review and meta-analysis examine relationships between traditional VRFs, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cognition in PLWH in the combination antiretroviral therapy era.
For the systematic review, 44 studies met inclusion criteria and included data from 14,376 PLWH and 6,043 HIV-seronegative controls. To better quantify the contribution of VRFs to cognitive impairment in HIV, a robust variance estimation meta-analysis (N = 11 studies) was performed and included data from 2139 PLWH.
In the systematic review, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies supported relationships between VRFs, cognitive dysfunction, and decline, particularly in the domains of attention/processing speed, executive functioning, and fine motor skills. The meta-analysis demonstrated VRFs were associated with increased odds of global neurocognitive impairment (odds ratio [OR ]= 2.059, p = .010), which remained significant after adjustment for clinical HIV variables (p = .017). Analyses of individual VRFs demonstrated type 2 diabetes (p = .004), hyperlipidemia (p = .043), current smoking (p = .037), and previous CVD (p = .0005) were significantly associated with global neurocognitive impairment.
VRFs and CVD are associated with worse cognitive performance and decline, and neurocognitive impairment in PLWH. Future studies are needed to examine these relationships in older adults with HIV, and investigate how race/ethnicity, gender, medical comorbidities, and psychosocial factors contribute to VRF-associated cognitive dysfunction in HIV.
Depression is common in people living with HIV (PLWH) and can contribute to neurocognitive dysfunction. Depressive symptoms in PLWH are often measured by assessing only cognitive/affective symptoms. Latinx adults, however, often express depressive symptoms in a somatic/functional manner, which is not typically captured in assessments of depression among PLWH. Given the disproportionate burden of HIV that Latinx adults face, examining whether variations in expressed depressive symptoms differentially predict neurocognitive outcomes between Latinx and non-Hispanic white PLWH is essential.
This cross-sectional study included 140 PLWH (71% Latinx; 72% male; mean (M) age = 47.1 ± 8.5 years; M education = 12.6 ± 2.9 years) who completed a comprehensive neurocognitive battery, Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR), and Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Neurocognitive performance was measured using demographically adjusted T-scores. BDI-II domain scores were computed for the Fast-Screen (cognitive/affective items) score (BDI-FS) and non-FS score (BDI-NFS; somatic/functional items).
Linear regressions revealed that the BDI-NFS significantly predicted global neurocognitive function and processing speed in the Latinx group (p < .05), such that higher physical/functional symptoms predicted worse performance. In the non-Hispanic white group, the cognitive/affective symptoms significantly predicted processing speed (p = .02), with more symptoms predicting better performance. Interaction terms of ethnicity and each BDI sub-score indicated that Latinx participants with higher cognitive/affective symptoms performed worse on executive functioning.
Depressive symptoms differentially predict neurocognitive performance in Latinx and non-Hispanic white PLWH. These differences should be considered when conducting research and intervention among the increasingly culturally and ethnically diverse population of PLWH.
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