Elevated Markers of Vascular Remodeling and Arterial Stiffness Are Associated With Neurocognitive Function in Older HIV+ Adults on Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy

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Abstract

Background:

HIV is associated with elevated markers of vascular remodeling that may contribute to arterial fibrosis and stiffening and changes in pulse pressure (PP). These changes may, in turn, deleteriously affect autoregulation of cerebral blood flow and neurocognitive function.

Methods:

To evaluate these mechanisms, we studied markers of vascular remodeling, PP, and neurocognitive function among older (≥50 years of age) HIV-infected (HIV+, n = 72) and HIV-seronegative (HIV−, n = 36) adults. Participants completed standardized neurobehavioral and neuromedical assessments. Neurocognitive functioning was evaluated using a well-validated comprehensive battery. Three plasma biomarkers of vascular remodeling (ie, angiopoietin 2, Tie-2, and vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF) were collected.

Results:

HIV+ and HIV− participants had similar levels of plasma angiopoietin 2 (P = 0.48), Tie-2 (P = 0.27), VEGF (P = 0.18), and PP (P = 0.98). In a multivariable regression model, HIV interacted with Tie-2 (β = 0.41, P < 0.01) and VEGF (β = −0.43, P = 0.01) on neurocognitive function, such that lower Tie-2 and higher VEGF values were associated with worse neurocognitive function for HIV+ participants. Greater Tie-2 values were associated with increased PP (r = 0.31, P < 0.01). In turn, PP demonstrated a quadratic association with neurocognitive function (β = −0.33, P = 0.01), such that lower and higher, relative to mean sample, PP values were associated with worse neurocognitive function.

Conclusions:

These findings indicate that vascular remodeling and altered cerebral blood flow autoregulation contribute to neurocognitive function. Furthermore, HIV moderates the association between vascular remodeling and neurocognitive function but not the association between PP and neurocognitive function.

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