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Neurosyphilis Increases Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-associated Central Nervous System Inflammation but Does Not Explain Cognitive Impairment in HIV-infected Individuals With Syphilis.

Abstract

Background: Individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who have previously had syphilis may have cognitive impairment. We tested the hypothesis that neurosyphilis causes cognitive impairment in HIV by amplifying HIV-related central nervous system (CNS) inflammation. Methods: HIV-infected participants enrolled in a study of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities in syphilis underwent the mental alternation test (MAT), venipuncture, and lumbar puncture. CSF concentrations of chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 10 (CXCL10), chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), and neurofilament light (NFL) were determined by commercial assays. The proportion of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and of CSF white blood cells (WBCs) that were activated monocytes (CD14+CD16+) was determined by flow cytometry. Neurosyphilis was defined as detection of Treponema pallidum 16S RNA in CSF or CSF white blood cells (WBCs) >20/uL or a reactive CSF-Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test; uncomplicated syphilis was defined as undetectable CSF T. pallidum, CSF WBCs ≤5/uL and nonreactive CSF-VDRL. MAT <18 was considered low. Results: Median proportion of PBMCs that were activated monocytes (16.6 vs. 5.3), and median CSF CXCL10 (10658 vs. 2530 units), CCL2 (519 vs. 337 units) and HIV RNA (727 vs. 50 c/mL) were higher in neurosyphilis than in uncomplicated syphilis (P ≤ .001 for all comparisons). Neurosyphilis was not related to low MAT scores. Participants with low MAT scores had higher median CSF CXCL10 (10299 vs. 3650 units, P = .008) and CCL2 (519 vs. 365 units, P = .04) concentrations than those with high MAT scores. Conclusions: Neurosyphilis may augment HIV-associated CNS inflammation, but it does not explain cognitive impairment in HIV-infected individuals with syphilis.

Authors: Ho EL, Maxwell CL, Dunaway SB, Sahi SK, Tantalo LC, Lukehart SA, Marra CM.
Journal: Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Sep 15;65(6):943-948
Year: 2017
PubMed: Find in PubMed