HIV-1 RNA concentration and cognitive performance in a cohort of HIV-positive people

Benedetto Vitiello, Karl Goodkin, Deshratn Ashtana, Paul Shapshak, J. Hampton Atkinson, Peter N.R. Heseltine, Elaine Eaton, Robert Heaton, William D. Lyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether higher viral concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and/or peripheral blood were associated with greater severity of cognitive impairment in HIV-1-seropositive subjects with cognitive-motor impairment. METHODS: Cognitive performance measurements and viral load were obtained from HIV-1-seropositive individuals with cognitive-motor impairment entering a clinical trial before the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). CSF viral load (UltraSensitive Roche HIV-1 Monitor test with detection limit of 50 copies/ml) was available from 179 patients, and peripheral (plasma or serum) viral load from 111 patients. Of these patients, 62% met the 1993 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria for AIDS, and 19% had clinically significant cognitive impairment (i.e., global deficit score ≥ 0.5). Possible associations between viral load and cognitive scores were examined with general linear regression models with and without adjustment for age, education, study site, antiretroviral use, CD4 cell count, and CDC stage. RESULTS: The mean CSF viral load was 2.83 log10/ml ± 0.94 (SD) (undetectable in 19.5%). Mean peripheral viral load was 4.11 log10/ml ± 0.90 (SD). No statistically significant associations emerged between either CSF or peripheral viral load and the global deficit score, or any of the seven cognitive domain deficit scores. CONCLUSIONS: Among these HIV-1-sero-positive individuals with mainly minor HIV-1-associated cognitive deficits and not receiving HAART, no association between CSF or blood concentration of HIV-1 RNA and cognitive performance could be found. These results suggest that the severity of HIV-1-associated cognitive impairment is not directly related to concurrent viral concentration in the CSF or the peripheral blood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1422
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive impairment
  • HIV-1
  • Viral load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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