March 16, 2016 – SSRI and HIV


Johns Hopkins and two other institutions has pointed the way toward greater understanding of how Zika virus infection may be related to microcephaly in babies. Guo-li Ming, a professor of neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins, describes the possible link.

Ming: Usually the major development of the nervous system is happening during the first trimester.  This neuroprogenitor cells are actually formed mostly during the first trimester. If there’s cell death, caused directly or indirectly by viral infection, that actually potentially can have a profound effect on later neurodevelopment and the formation of the brain.  This study does not show that.  This is the next step we would like to look into.   :28

Ming and colleagues hope their model will help advance understanding of Zika virus infection and perhaps develop interventions that help.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.


Anchor lead: Use of a common antidepressant may help people infected with HIV, Elizabeth Tracey reports

The common antidepressant called paroxetine is able to help people who are HIV infected and are suffering cognitive symptoms improve, a Johns Hopkins study led by Ned Sacktor, a professor of neurology, and colleagues has shown.

Sacktor: What we found in this exciting trial is that paroxetine improves cognitive performance in patients with HIV infection, and this is something that has not been seen in many previous clinical trials we’ve done to try to treat the cognitive problems that patients with HIV infection have while on antiretroviral drugs.  :21

Sacktor says cognitive impairment is common, even when the virus is suppressed using antiretroviral drugs.

Sacktor: Usually this develops after having HIV infection for several years, but you can even see some mild cognitive problems early on in the course of HIV infection.   :12

Sacktor says it’s too early to recommend routine use of paroxetine for cognitive symptoms in those with HIV but hopes to have data from larger trials soon.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.