Detection of Anti-Tat Antibodies in CSF of Individuals With HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorders

J Neurovirol. 2013 Feb;19(1):82-8. doi: 10.1007/s13365-012-0144-8. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Despite major advances in the development of antiretroviral therapies, currently available treatments have no effect on the production of HIV-Tat protein once the proviral DNA is formed. Tat is a highly neurotoxic and neuroinflammatory protein, but its effects may be modulated by antibody responses against it. We developed an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and measured anti-Tat antibody titers in CSF of a well characterized cohort of 52 HIV-infected and 13 control individuals. We successfully measured anti-Tat antibodies in CSF of HIV-infected individuals with excellent sensitivity and specificity, spanning a broad range of detection from 10,000 to over 100,000 relative light units. We analyzed them for relationship to cognitive function, CD4 cell counts, and HIV viral load. Anti-Tat antibody levels were higher in those without neurocognitive dysfunction than in those with HIV-associated neurocognitive dysfunction (HAND) and in individuals with lower CD4 cell counts and higher viral loads. We provide details of an assay which may have diagnostic, prognostic, or therapeutic implications for patients with HAND. Active viral replication may be needed to drive the immune response against Tat protein, but this robust immune response against the protein may be neuroprotective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / immunology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology*


  • HIV Antibodies
  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus