Apathy is not associated with a panel of biomarkers in older adults with HIV disease

Steven Paul Woods, Jennifer L. Thompson, Michelle A. Babicz, Lokesh Shahani, Gabriela Delevati Colpo, Natalia P. Rocha, Erin E. Morgan, Antonio L. Teixeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Apathy is prevalent in HIV disease and can significantly impact personal well-being; however, little is known about its neurobiological substrates in persons with HIV (PWH) disease. Methods: This cross-sectional, correlational study examined the association between apathy and several plasma biomarkers (tumor necrosis factor alpha, kynurenine, tryptophan, quinolinic acid, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, glial fibrillary acidic protein, neurofilament light chain, and phosphorylated tau at position threonine 181) in 109 PWH and 30 seronegative participants ages 50 and older. Apathy was measured with a composite score derived from subscales of the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale and the Profile of Mood States. Results: Multiple regressions showed that PWH had significantly greater severity of apathy symptoms, independent of both data-driven and conceptually-based covariates. Pairwise correlations in the PWH sample indicated that apathy was not significantly associated with any of the measured biomarkers and all of the effect sizes were small. Conclusion: Findings suggest that apathy is not strongly associated with peripheral biomarkers of inflammation, neurotrophic support, or neurodegeneration in older PWH. Limitations of this study include the cross-sectional design, the use of self-report measures of apathy, and low rates of viremia. Longitudinal studies in more representative samples of PWH that include a more comprehensive panel of fluid biomarkers, informant and behavioral indicators of apathy, and relevant psychosocial factors might help to further clarify the neurobiological substrates of this complex neuropsychiatric phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110666
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • Biological factors
  • Emotions
  • Infectious disease
  • Motivation
  • Neuropsychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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