Considerable heterogeneity exists in patterns of neurocognitive change in people with HIV (PWH). We examined heterogeneity in neurocognitive change trajectories from HIV diagnosis to 1–2 years post-antiretroviral therapy (ART). In an observational cohort study in Rakai, Uganda, 312 PWH completed a neuropsychological (NP) test battery at two-time points (ART-naïve, 1–2 years post-ART initiation). All NP outcomes were used in a latent profile analysis to identify subgroups of PWH with similar ART-related neurocognitive change profiles. In a subset, we examined subgroup differences pre-ART on cytokine and neurodegenerative biomarkers CSF levels. We identified four ART-related change subgroups: (1) decline-only (learning, memory, fluency, processing speed, and attention measures), (2) mixed (improvements in learning and memory but declines in attention and executive function measures), (3) no-change, or (4) improvement-only (learning, memory, and attention measures). ART-related NP outcomes that are most likely to change included learning, memory, and attention. Motor function measures were unchanged. Subgroups differed on eight of 34 pre-ART biomarker levels including interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-13, interferon-γ, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3, MMP-10, and platelet-derived growth factor-AA. The improvement-only and mixed subgroups showed lower levels on these markers versus the no-change subgroup. These findings provide support for the need to disentangle heterogeneity in ART-related neurocognitive changes, to focus on higher-order cognitive processes (learning, memory, attention) as they were most malleable to change, and to better understand why motor function remained unchanged despite ART treatment. Group differences in pre-ART CSF levels provide preliminary evidence of biological plausibility of neurocognitive phenotyping.
- Cognitive impairment
- Global health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience