Background. Dyslipidemia and apolipoprotein E4 (APOEε4) allele are risk factors for age-related cognitive decline, but how these risks are modified by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is unclear.
Methods. In a longitudinal nested study from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, 273 HIV type 1–infected (HIV+) men aged 50–65 years with baseline HIV RNA <400 copies/mL and on continuous antiretroviral therapy (ART) in ≥95% of follow-up visits were matched by sociodemographic variables to 516 HIV-uninfected (HIV–) controls. The association between lipid markers (total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C], high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-C], and triglycerides), APOE genotype, and cognitive decline in HIV infection was examined using mixed-effects models.
Results. The median baseline age of participants was 51, 81% were white, and 89% had education >12 years. HIV+ men had similar baseline total cholesterol and LDL-C, but lower HDL-C and higher triglycerides than controls (P < .001). Higher total cholesterol and LDL-C were associated with faster rates of cognitive decline (P < .01), whereas higher HDL-C attenuated decline (P = .02) in HIV+ men. In HIV+ men with elevated cholesterol, statin use was associated with a slower estimated rate of decline (P = .02). APOEε4 genotype accelerated cognitive decline in HIV+ but not HIV– men (P = .01), with trajectories diverging from HIV– ε4 carriers after age 50. Total cholesterol levels did not modify the association of ε4 genotype with decline (P = .9).
Conclusions. Elevated cholesterol and APOEε4 genotype are independent risk factors for cognitive decline in ART-adherent HIV+ men aged >50 years. Treatment of dyslipidemia may be an effective strategy to reduce cognitive decline in older HIV+ individuals.