Untangling the Gordian knot of HIV, stress, and cognitive impairment

Arielle N. Valdez, Leah H. Rubin, Gretchen N. Neigh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


As individuals live longer with HIV, this “graying of the HIV epidemic” has introduced a new set of challenges including a growing number of age and inflammation-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and dementia. The biological underpinnings of these complex and co-morbid diseases are not fully understood and become very difficult to disentangle in the context of HIV and aging. In the current review we examine the contributions and interactions of HIV, stress, and cognitive impairment and query the extent to which inflammation is the linchpin in these dynamic interactions. Given the inter-relatedness of stress, inflammatory mechanisms, HIV, and cognitive impairment, future work will either need to address multiple dimensions simultaneously or embrace the philosophy that breaking the aberrant cycle at any one point will subsequently remedy the other related systems and processes. Such a single-point intervention may be effective in early disease states, but after perpetuation of an aberrant cycle, adaptations in an attempt to internally resolve the issue will likely lead to the need for multifaceted interventions. Acknowledging that HIV, inflammation, and stress may interact with one another and collectively impact cognitive ability is an important step in fully understanding an individual's complete clinical picture and moving towards personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • CD4
  • Cognition
  • HIV
  • Inflammation
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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