HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is a common condition in both developed and developing nations, but its cause is largely unknown. Previous research has inconsistently linked Alzheimer’s disease (AD), viral burden, and inflammation to the onset of HAND in HIV-infected individuals. Here we simultaneously measured cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of established amyloid and tau biomarkers for AD, viral copy numbers, and six key cytokines in 41 HIV-infected individuals off combination anti-retroviral therapy (14 with HAND) who underwent detailed clinical and neuropsychological characterization, and compared their CSF patterns with those from young healthy subjects, older healthy subjects with normal cognition, and older people with AD. HAND was associated with the lowest CSF levels of phosphorylated tau (p-Tau181) after accounting for age and race. We also found very high CSF levels of the pro-inflammatory interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (IP-10/CXCL10) in HIV regardless of cognition, but elevated CSF interleukin 8 (IL-8/CXCL8) only in HIV-NC but not HAND. Eleven HIV-infected subjects underwent repeat CSF collection six months later and showed strongly correlated longitudinal changes in p-Tau181 and IL-8 levels (R = 0.841). These data suggest reduced IL-8 relative to IP-10 and reduced p-Tau181 to characterize HAND.
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