Publication Abstract Display
Type: Poster
Title: Methamphetamine, cannabis, HIV, and their combined effects on neurocognition.
Authors: Rogers JM, Grant I, Marcondes MC, Morgan EE, Cherner M, Ellis RJ, Letendre SL, Heaton RK, Iudicello JE
Date: 02-04-2023
Abstract:Objective: Methamphetamine and cannabis are two widely used substances with possibly opposing effects on aspects of central nervous system functioning. Use of these substances is prevalent among people with HIV (PWH), though their combined effects on HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment (NCI) are unknown. Adverse effects of methamphetamine use on cognition are well documented. Cannabis may disturb cognition acutely, though its longer-term effects in PWH are not well understood. Our prior analysis of people without HIV (PWoH) found that cotemporaneous cannabis use was associated with better neurocognitive outcomes among methamphetamine users. The aim of this study was to assess how lifetime cannabis and methamphetamine use disorder relate to neurocognitive outcomes in PWH. Participants and Methods: HIV-positive participants (n=472) were on average 45.6±11.5 years of age, male (86.4%), White (60.6%), and educated 13.9±2.5 years. Most participants were on ART (81.9%) and virally suppressed (70%). Participants were stratified by lifetime methamphetamine (M-/M+) and cannabis (C-/C+) DSM-IV abuse/dependence disorder into four groups: M-C- (n=187), M-C+ (n=68), M+C-, (n=82) and M+C+ (n=135) and completed a comprehensive neurobehavioral assessment. Demographically corrected T-scores and deficit scores were used for analyses. Group differences in global and domain NC performances (i.e., T-scores) were examined using multiple linear regression, holding constant covariates that were associated with study groups and/or cognition. Specifically, M+ participants displayed higher rates of Hepatitis C infection (p=.004), higher current depressive symptom scores (p<.001), and higher rates of detectable plasma HIV RNA (p=.014). Multiple logistic regression was used to test for group differences in probability of neurocognitive impairment (i.e., deficit scores≥0.5), including the same covariates. Pooling data with a sample of HIV-negative participants (n=423), we used generalized linear mixed effect models to examine how neurocognitive performance and impairment profiles varied by methamphetamine and/or cannabis use group, HIV disease characteristics, and their interactions. Results: Compared to M+C+, M+C- performed worse on measures of executive functions (β=-3.17), learning (β=-3.95), memory (β=-5.58), and working memory (β=-4.05) and were more likely to be classified as impaired in the learning (OR=2.93), memory (OR=5.24), and working memory (OR=2.48) domains. M-C- performed better than M+C+ on measures of learning (β=3.46) and memory (β=5.19), but worse than M-C+ on measures of executive functions (β=-3.90), learning (β=-3.32), memory (β=-3.38), and working memory (β=-3.38). Generalized linear mixed effect models indicate that detectable plasma HIV RNA (β=-1.85) and low nadir CD4 T-cell counts (nadir CD4<200; β=-1.07) were associated with worse neurocognitive performance, and these effects did not differ in size or direction by substance use group. Conclusions: In PWH, lifetime methamphetamine use disorder and both current and legacy markers of HIV disease severity are associated with worse neurocognitive outcomes. Cannabis use disorder does not appear to exacerbate methamphetamine-related deficits in PWH. Instead, results are consistent with findings from preclinical studies that cannabis use may protect against methamphetamine’s deleterious effects. Profile analysis models showed that participants with a history of cannabis use disorder display better overall neurocognitive performance than comparison (M-C-) participants. Mechanisms underlying a potential protective effect of cannabis may be elucidated by examining the temporal relationship between cannabis and methamphetamine consumption and neurocognitive performance.

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