The National Institute of Mental Health
has awarded an R01 grant to Maria Marquine, PhD,
Assistant Professor of the Department
of Psychiatry and the Stein Institute for
Research on Aging to study factors related to cognitive impairment among older Latinos with and without HIV infection.
in the United States are fifty or older, and
that number is expected to grow to seventy
percent by 2020. Aging with HIV has its
challenges. Neurocognitive impairment (NCI)
is one of the most prevalent—forty percent
of patients living with HIV suffer from noticeable decline in cognitive abilities, including
memory and thinking skills.
“HIV-infected Latinos have an increased risk
for NCI and neurocognitive decline, and this
risk is particularly pronounced in older age,”
said Maria Marquine, PhD. “Yet, the factors
underlying these disparities are not
The newly funded study will be one of the
first large-scale investigations of aging in
HIV-infected Latinos aged forty and older.
The study will focus on two biological
processes: metabolic syndrome and gut
microbiome dysbiosis. Metabolic syndrome
is a cluster of conditions—such as increased
blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess
body fat, and abnormal cholesterol—that occur
together, increasing one’s risk of heart
disease, stroke, and diabetes. Microbiome
dysbiosis is a microbial imbalance or
maladaptation in the gut. Both conditions
may be particularly problematic among
Hispanics and may result in greater brain
vulnerability to HIV.
The study will also integrate aspects of the
built and sociocultural environment (assessed
via geocoding), the impact of behavior (physical activity and diet), and healthcare (healthcare
use and access, and health literacy).
The data will be collected in 200 HIV-positive
and HIV-uninfected Hispanics (approximately
half will be Spanish-speaking) aged forty
and older over the course of three years.
Dr. Marquine has assembled a multidisciplinary
research, including experts in cross-cultural
neuropsychology, health disparities, medicine,
public health, microbiomics, geography,
“Our hope is that understanding factors that
lead to NCI will help us reduce health disparities and improve quality of life and well-being
in adults living with HIV,” said Marquine.
Read more about Dr. Marquine's work on diversity here.