HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder Database Aids Research

HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders afflict almost half of all patients with HIV.

HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders afflict almost half of all patients with HIV.

However, limited brain tissue availability, variations in study protocols, and genotyping errors limit research into the process of neural and synaptodendritic damage.

HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders can make daily activities difficult for those afflicted, and patients face a 3-fold increased risk of death.

To better help these patients, researchers and clinicians need open access to the limited information available about the disorders.

A multinational team of HIV researchers has created a free database (www.handdatabase.org) to aid research by increasing sample power and decreasing study biases.

HIV-1 sequence data was collected from GenBank and the LANL HIV sequence database to compile the largest publically available database dedicated to HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders.

The database is kept up-to-date and contained 5783 discreet samples from 163 patients when this article was published.

All sequence data was subject to stringent quality control examination and re-genotyping, which allows for a solid foundation toward untangling viral mechanisms that drive neuropathology under various epidemiologic settings.

Patients from whom samples were collected ranged in age from 19 to 63, with 69% of them between ages 30 and 49.

HIV-1-associated dementia was seen in 54% of patients with HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders, while HIV-1 encephalopathy was seen in 35%, and AIDS dementia complex in 8%.

Information on the patients’ highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) therapy is linked to the samples, as well.

Existing genotyping has focused on env (a promising pharmaceutical target), but HIV-1 genes nef, vpr, and tat are also associated with HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders.

A comprehensive patient viral genotyping database can increase understanding of HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorder pathogenesis. The information may be used in high-throughput sequencing, and it is critical in resource-limited countries.

The vast majority of samples were taken from patients in the United States and Europe. The database developers are continuing to expand the database with a focus on samples from Africa and Asia.

BMC Medical Genomics published a description of the new database online in October 2015.