The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index and Neurocognitive Change: A Longitudinal Study

Academic Article


  • Background. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index, a composite marker of disease severity among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons, has been associated with concurrent risk for neurocognitive impairment (NCI). The present study examined whether the VACS Index predicts longitudinal neurocognitive change. Methods. Participants included 655 HIV-infected persons followed for up to 6 years in cohort studies at the University of California, San Diego, HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program (mean age at baseline, 42.5 years; 83% male; 60% white; AIDS in 67%; median current CD4+ T-cell count, 346/μL; 61% receiving antiretroviral therapy). The VACS Index was calculated through standard methods. Participants completed a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. Neurocognitive status was plotted over time using demographically and practice-adjusted global and domain T scores. NCI was defined by global deficit scores derived from T scores. Results. Baseline VACS Index scores were not predictive of changes in global T scores during the follow-up period (P =. 14). However, in time-dependent analyses adjusting for covariates, higher VACS Index scores were significantly associated with worse global and domain neurocognitive performance (Ps <. 01), as well as increased risk for developing NCI in a subgroup of persons who were neurocognitively normal at baseline (hazard ratio [HR], 1.17; P <. 001). We categorized VACS Index scores by quartiles and found that the upper-quartile group was significantly more likely to develop NCI than the lower quartile (HR, 2.16; P <. 01) and middle groups (HR, 1.76; P <. 01). Conclusions. Changes in VACS Index scores correspond to changes in neurocognitive function. HIV-infected persons with high VACS Index scores are at increased risk for decline and incident NCI. The VACS Index shows promise as a tool for identifying HIV-infected persons at risk for NCI.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 8364276
  • Author List

  • Marquine MJ; Montoya JL; Umlauf A; Fazeli PL; Gouaux B; Heaton RK; Ellis RJ; Letendre SL; Grant I; Moore DJ
  • Start Page

  • 694
  • End Page

  • 702
  • Volume

  • 63
  • Issue

  • 5