Executive functioning involves the complex cognitive abilities to plan and execute multi-step tasks and process new information and is thought to be impaired
in chronic HIV infection as a result of widespread synaptodendritic injury to frontal-striato-thalamo-cortical brain circuits . Such repair of this synaptodendritic injury may not occur immediately after controlling HIV viraemia with cART, and may explain the observation we have made in our study that executive function improvements occurred later than improvements in the other cognitive domains assessed. Cysique and colleagues have recently described changes in NC function over a 1-year period in 37 HIV-infected selleck subjects commencing cART, and, similar to our study findings, they observed peak improvements in NC function to occur after 24–36 weeks of therapy  with prolonged improvements observed over a 1-year period. However, allocation of cART within this cohort was based on clinician choice, restricting the interpretation of such observations to discern differences between different cART regimens. Also, not all subjects were naïve to cART and all subjects had documented
NC function impairment at baseline. Unlike our study, these Z-VAD-FMK datasheet factors limited the relevance of these observations to HIV-infected neuro-asymptomatic subjects, who represent the majority of HIV-infected subjects commencing cART for the first time. While we have attributed improvements in NC function to the effects of commencing cART, we cannot fully account for confounding factors which may also have resulted in improvements in NC function over the study period. A control arm
within our study allocating subjects not to receive antiretroviral therapy would have strengthened our observations if no improvements Evodiamine in NC function were observed in subjects allocated to this arm. However, such an approach would not be ethical or feasible as individuals selected to enter the study clinically required to commence antiretroviral therapy. Furthermore, cognitive function is likely to decline over time, rather than improve, and this decline has been reported to be greater in HIV-infected subjects , strengthening the argument that the improvements in NC function observed are secondary to commencing cART. Lastly, a learning effect may account for improvements in NC performance. However, all subjects undertook a practice NC test during the study screening period prior to the study baseline test used in our analysis in order to minimize effects of learning on the study results , and such effects would not explain the differences in improvements we observed between the study treatment arms.