Background: Clinically significant dysregulation of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) family proteins occurs in HIV-infected individuals, but the details including whether the deficiencies in IGFs contribute to CNS dysfunction are unknown.
Methods: We measured the levels of IGF1, IGF2, IGFBP1, IGFBP2, and IGF2 receptor (IGF2R) in matching plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples of 107 HIV+ individuals from CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) and analyzed their associations with demographic and disease characteristics, as well as levels of several soluble inflammatory mediators (TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, IP-10, MCP-1, and progranulin). We also determined whether IGF1 or IGF2 deficiency is associated with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) and whether the levels of soluble IGF2R (an IGF scavenging receptor, which we also have found to be a cofactor for HIV infection in vitro) correlate with HIV viral load (VL).
Results: There was a positive correlation between the levels of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) and those of inflammatory mediators: between plasma IGFBP1 and IL-17 (β coefficient 0.28, P = 0.009), plasma IGFBP2 and IL-6 (β coefficient 0.209, P = 0.021), CSF IGFBP1 and TNFα (β coefficient 0.394, P < 0.001), and CSF IGFBP2 and TNF-α (β coefficient 0.14, P < 0.001). As IGFBPs limit IGF availability, these results suggest that inflammation is a significant factor that modulates IGF protein expression/availability in the setting of HIV infection. However, there was no significant association between HAND and the reduced levels of plasma IGF1, IGF2, or CSF IGF1, suggesting a limited power of our study. Interestingly, plasma IGF1 was significantly reduced in subjects on non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) compared to protease inhibitor-based therapy (174.1 ± 59.8 vs. 202.8 ± 47.3 ng/ml, P = 0.008), suggesting a scenario in which ART regimen-related toxicity can contribute to HAND. Plasma IGF2R levels were positively correlated with plasma VL (β coefficient 0.37, P = 0.021) and inversely correlated with current CD4+ T cell counts (β coefficient -0.04, P = 0.021), supporting our previous findings in vitro.
Conclusions: Together, these results strongly implicate (1) an inverse relationship between inflammation and IGF growth factor availability and the contribution of IGF deficiencies to HAND and (2) the role of IGF2R in HIV infection and as a surrogate biomarker for HIV VL.