Multi-modal analysis of inflammation as a potential mediator of depressive symptoms in young people with HIV: The GOLD Depression Study

Arish Mudra Rakshasa-Loots, Shalena Naidoo, Thandi Hamana, Busiswa Fanqa, Kaylee S. van Wyhe, Filicity Lindani, Andre J. W. van der Kouwe, Richard Glashoff, Sharon Kruger, Frances Robertson, Simon R. Cox, Ernesta M. Meintjes, Barbara Laughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

People living with HIV are at three times greater risk for depressive symptoms. Inflammation is a notable predictor of depression, and people with HIV exhibit chronic inflammation despite antiretroviral therapy. We hypothesised that inflammatory biomarkers may mediate the association between HIV status and depressive symptoms. Participants (N = 60, 53% girls, median [interquartile range (IQR)] age 15.5 [15.0, 16.0] years, 70% living with HIV, of whom 90.5% were virally-suppressed) completed the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). We measured choline and myo-inositol in basal ganglia, midfrontal gray matter, and peritrigonal white matter using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and 16 inflammatory proteins in blood serum using ELISA and Luminex™ multiplex immunoassays. Using structural equation mediation modelling, we calculated standardised indirect effect estimates with 95% confidence intervals. Median [IQR] total PHQ-9 score was 3 [0, 7]. HIV status was significantly associated with total PHQ-9 score (B = 3.32, p = 0.022). Participants with HIV showed a higher choline-to-creatine ratio in the basal ganglia than those without HIV (β = 0.86, pFDR = 0.035). In blood serum, participants with HIV showed higher monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1, β = 0.59, pFDR = 0.040), higher chitinase-3 like-1 (YKL-40, β = 0.73, pFDR = 0.032), and lower interleukin-1beta (IL-1β, β = -0.67, pFDR = 0.047) than those without HIV. There were no significant associations of any biomarkers with total PHQ-9 score. None of the indirect effects were significant, mediating <13.1% of the association. Findings remained consistent when accounting for age, gender, and time between neuroimaging and PHQ-9 administration. Using a robust analytical approach in a community-based sample, we have shown that participants living with HIV reported greater depressive symptoms than those without HIV, but we did not find that neuroimaging and blood biomarkers of inflammation significantly mediated this association. Further studies with participants experiencing severe depression may help to elucidate the links between HIV, inflammation, and depression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0298787
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Multi-modal analysis of inflammation as a potential mediator of depressive symptoms in young people with HIV: The GOLD Depression Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this