Study shows antidepressant may relieve cognitive symptoms in HIV patients

Reducing inflammation allows the brain to function more normally. | File photo

The antidepressant Paroxetine has been shown to modestly relief cognitive symptoms in patients who have HIV, including reaction time, decision-making and inflammation.

This result is from a small, placebo-controlled clinical trial from Johns Hopkins. The scientists report that this could be the first time a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) has improved cognition among HIV patients.

Reducing inflammation allows the brain to function more normally than it otherwise would for HIV patients.

"Over a period of 20 years and after 10 clinical trials, this is the first time we've been able to clearly demonstrate benefit in a summary measure of cognitive performance for patients with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders," Dr. Ned Sacktor, lead author and professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

These results are dependent on the patients regularly taking their SSRIs.

"There is a huge advantage to incorporating FDA-approved drugs into a clinical trial rather than developing whole new ones," Dr. Justin McArthur, senior author and professor and director of the Department of Neurology, said. "It's quicker, cheaper and very unlikely that there will be any surprises or any untoward side effects because the drug has been given to tens of thousands of people already."

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