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CCL3L1 gene copy number in individuals with and without HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder

Authors Brown A, Sacktor, Marder K, Cohen, Schifitto, Skolasky, Creighton J, Guo L, McArthur

Received 27 October 2011

Accepted for publication 30 November 2011

Published 9 January 2012 Volume 2012:2 Pages 1—6


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

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Amanda Brown1, Ned Sacktor1, Karen Marder2, Bruce Cohen3, Giovanni Schifitto4, Richard L Skolasky1, Jason Creighton1, Liping Guo1, Justin C McArthur1
1Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 2Department of Neurology, Psychiatry, Sergievsky Center and Taub Institute on Alzheimers Disease and the Aging Brain, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, 3Department of Neurology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, 4Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA

Background: CCL3L1 copy number variation has been implicated as a marker for susceptibility and immunity to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection and its pathogenic sequelae. Some of these findings have been confirmed in several, but not all, subsequent independent cohort studies. A three-fold risk for the development of HIV-associated dementia was reported in individuals possessing a CCL3L1 copy number below the ethnic group median combined with a detrimental CCR5 genotype. With the availability of antiretroviral therapy since 1996, there has been a significant decline in HIV-associated dementia, and milder forms of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment (HAND) are now most prevalent. Moreover, patients are living longer with HIV-1 infection and it is recognized that aging may be a contributory factor to the development of cognitive disorder. Thus, the need for biomarkers that can be used in clinical practice to identify and provide optimal treatment for those at increased risk for HAND is great. HAND affects 20%–30% of HIV-infected individuals, and several genetic loci which have been shown to confer susceptibility to HIV infection may also modulate the development of neurocognitive disorder. The aim of this study was to determine whether CCL3L1 chemokine gene copy number in self-defined ethnic groups could differentiate HIV-infected individuals with and without HAND.
Methods: Genomic DNA was isolated from buccal swabs or peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from HIV-infected patients with or without a diagnoses of neurocognitive dysfunction in the Northeast AIDS Dementia Cohort and National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium. To maintain a uniform standard, a quantitative polymerase chain reaction design similar to previous studies using Taqman probes and fixed input DNA between 2 ng and 10 ng was used to determine a CCL3L1 copy number. Standard curves with two-fold dilutions from 25 ng to 1.56 ng were generated. CCL3L1 copy number was determined in triplicate in 262 subjects using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and the relative quantitation method. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance, with significance defined as P < 0.05 and Bonferroni post hoc tests.
Results: Significant differences as determined by analysis of variance in CCL3L1 copy number between African-Americans and Caucasians (P < 0.0001) were found, highlighting ethnic group differences in the copy number of this gene. However, there were no differences in CCL3L1 copy number across the neurocognitive groups within each ethnic group. The median CCL3L1 copy number in African-Americans of two and Caucasians of one in this study was significantly lower than the previously reported ethnic group means of two and four copies, respectively. A higher prevalence of abnormal cognition with a relative risk of four was seen in African-Americans versus Caucasians.
Conclusion: Based on this nested case-control study, CCL3L1 copy number alone may not be useful for distinguishing between individuals at risk for mild or severe neurocognitive disorder. Additional larger cohort studies are required to determine whether CCL3L1 copy number in combination with polymorphisms in other genes known to contribute to HIV risk will be useful in identifying those at increased risk for HAND.

neurological, HIV-associated dementia, HAND, chemokine, copy number, African-American, Caucasian

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