Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of peptide T for HIV- associated cognitive impairment

Peter N.R. Heseltine, Karl Goodkin, J. Hampton Atkinson, Benedetto Vitiello, James Rochon, Robert K. Heaton, Elaine M. Eaton, Frances L. Wilkie, Eugene Sobel, Stephen J. Brown, Dan Feaster, Lon Schneider, Walter L. Goldschmidts, Ellen S. Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background: Cognitive impairment is a common consequence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and dementia is one of the diseases that defines the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Peptide T (d-ala- peptide-T-amide) has been reported to block the binding of gp120 to brain tissue and to protect neurons from the toxic effects of gp120 in vitro. In pilot studies, administration of peptide T to HIV-positive patients with cognitive impairment was associated with improvement in cognition and constitutional symptoms. Objective: To determine whether the intranasal administration of peptide T would improve cognitive function of HIV-positive patients with cognitive impairment. Patients and Methods: This was a 3-site, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of peptide T given intranasally at a dosage of 2 mg 3 times a day for 6 months. Participants were HIV-seropositive persons with evidence of cognitive deficits on a screening test battery. Concomitant antiretroviral therapy was allowed. Randomization to the 2 study arms was balanced according to several stratification variables, such as CD4+ cell count, severity of cognitive impairment, and antiretroviral therapy at study entry. A comprehensive neuropsychological (NP) battery, which yielded 23 scores, was administered at baseline and the study end point. The primary outcome measure was a global NP score derived from the 23 standardized scores. The efficacy end point was the change in NP score at 6 months compared with baseline. Secondary efficacy measures were 7 cognitive domain scores and deficit scores of global and domain performance. The patients who completed the baseline and final NP evaluations (after at least 4 months in the randomized treatment arm) were included in the efficacy analyses. Additional analyses were conducted on subgroups of patients according to the CD4+ count and baseline NP deficit. The incidence of NP improvement in the 2 treatment arms was also compared. Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the peptide T and placebo groups on the global NP change score, the individual domains, or the deficit scores. Because of an imbalance in the baseline CD4+ cell count between treatment arms, analyses were also adjusted for this variable. These CD4+-adjusted analyses suggested (P=.07; analysis of covariance [ANCOVA]) a greater improvement in the peptide T group. Subgroup analyses indicated a treatment effect for patients whose CD4+ cell count was above 0.200x 109/L (200 cells/μL) at baseline. Moreover, peptide T treatment was associated with overall cognitive improvement in patients with baseline global deficit scores of at least 0.5, while overall deterioration was more common among the placebo group (P=.02; Mantel-Haenszel X2 test). Conclusions: Peptide T was not significantly different from placebo on the study primary end points. However, additional analyses indicated that peptide T may be associated with improved performance in the subgroup of patients with more evident cognitive impairment (ie, NP global deficit score ≤0.5) or with relatively preserved immunological status (ie, CD4+ cell count >0.200X 109/L).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of peptide T for HIV- associated cognitive impairment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this