Blood-based biomarkers associated with increased risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) are understudied in people living with and without HIV, particularly women.
To determine whether baseline or 1-year changes in plasma amyloid-β40 (Aβ40), Aβ42, ratio of Aβ42 to Aβ40, total tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau 231 (p-tau 231 ), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and/or neurofilament light chain (NFL) are associated with neuropsychological performance (NP) among women living with HIV (WLWH) and women living without HIV (WLWOH).
Design, Setting, and Participants
This longitudinal, prospective, cohort study with 1-year repeated clinical measures (NP only measured once) and biospecimen collection occurred between 2017 and 2019. Participants were women aged 40 years or older from 10 clinical research sites in cities across the US that were part of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Data analysis was conducted from April to December 2022.
Laboratory-confirmed HIV status and AD biomarkers.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Sociodemographically adjusted NP T-scores (attention and working memory, executive function, processing speed, memory, learning, verbal fluency, motor function, and global performance) were the primary outcomes. Baseline and 1-year fasting plasma Aβ40, Aβ42, t-tau, p-tau 231 , GFAP, and NFL levels were measured and analyzed using multivariable linear regression.
The study consisted of 307 participants (294 aged ≥50 years [96%]; 164 African American or Black women [53%]; 214 women with a high school education or higher [70%]; 238 women who were current or former smokers [78%]; and 236 women [77%] who were overweight or obese [body mass index >25]) including 209 WLWH and 98 WLWOH. Compared with WLWOH at baseline, WLWH performed worse on learning (mean [SD] T - score 47.8 [11.3] vs 51.4 [10.5]), memory (mean [SD] T-score 48.3 [11.6] vs 52.4 [10.2]), verbal fluency (mean [SD] T-score 48.3 [9.8] vs 50.7 [8.5]), and global (mean [SD] T-score 49.2 [6.8] vs 51.1 [5.9]) NP assessments. Baseline median Aβ40, GFAP, and NFL levels were higher among WLWH vs WLWOH. There were no differences in 1-year biomarker change by HIV serostatus. Lower learning, memory, and motor NP were associated with 1-year Aβ40 increase; lower learning and motor with Aβ42 increase; lower motor with p-tau 231 increase; and lower processing speed, verbal fluency and motor with NFL increase in the entire sample. Among WLWH, a 1-year increase in Aβ40 from baseline to follow-up was associated with worse learning, memory, and global NP; a 1-year increase in t-tau with worse executive function; and a 1-year increase in NFL with worse processing speed. Among WLWOH, a 1-year increase in Aβ40 and Aβ42 were associated with poorer memory performance and NFL was associated with poorer motor performance.
Conclusions and Relevance
These findings suggest that increases in certain plasma AD biomarkers are associated with NP in WLWH and WLWOH and may be associated with later onset of AD, and measuring these biomarkers could be a pivotal advancement in monitoring aging brain health and development of AD among women with and without HIV.