The relationship between AIDS retinal cotton wool spots and neuropsychological impairment in HIV-positive individuals in the pre-highly active antiretroviral therapy era

William R. Freeman, J. Allen McCutchan, J. Fernando Arevalo, Tanya Wolfson, Thomas D. Marcotte, Robert K. Heaton, Igor Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To determine the relationship between AIDS retinal cotton wool spots (CWS) and neuropsychological impairment in HIV-positive individuals in the pre-HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) era and the association between AIDS-related retinal CWS and neuropsychological impairment in HIV-positive patients not treated with HAART. Methods: A case-control analysis of prospectively acquired data in HIV-infected individuals who underwent prospective and longitudinal evaluations of retinal findings as well as neuropsychological testing was performed. Individuals underwent prospective retinal ophthalmic examinations with fundus photography of any retinal lesions. They also underwent periodic neuropsychological testing. The occurrence of retinal CWS was analyzed in relationship to neuropsychological impairment. Results: Thirty individuals with CWS were compared to 60 matched control AIDS patients. There was no association between either global clinical neuropsychological impairment or impairment in any of the five major domains tested and retinal CWS. There was an association between beta-2 microglobulin and CWS as well as an association between low CD4 T-cell count and the presence of retinal CWS. Conclusions: We found no association between retinovascular disease and neurocognitive impairment in this case-control study. Retinal CWS in HIV disease are related to higher serum beta-2 microglobulin levels and lower CD4 T-cell counts, suggesting that these lesions are related to HIV disease progression but may be caused by a pathological process independent of CNS disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalOcular Immunology and Inflammation
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • AIDS retinopathy
  • Cotton wool spots
  • Dementia
  • Neuropsychology
  • Vision loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Ophthalmology

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