HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) persist even with virologic suppression on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are not well understood. We performed structural magnetic resonance imaging and MR spectroscopy (MRS) in HIV+ individuals without major neurocognitive comorbidities. Study participants were classified as neurocognitively unimpaired (NU), asymptomatic (ANI), mild neurocognitive disorder (MND), or HIVassociated dementia (HAD). Using structural MRI, we measured volumes of cortical and subcortical gray matter and total and abnormal white matter (aWM). Using single-voxel MRS, we estimated metabolites in frontal gray matter (FGM) and frontal white matter (FWM) and basal ganglia (BG) regions. Adjusted odds ratios were used to compare HAND to NU. Among 253 participants, 40% met HAND criteria (21% ANI, 15% MND, and 4% HAD). Higher risk of HAND was associated with more aWM. Both HAD and MND also had smaller gray and white matter volumes than NU. Among individuals with undetectable plasma HIV RNA, structural volumetric findings were similar to the overall sample. MND had lower FWM creatine and higher FGM choline relative to NU, whereas HAD and ANI had lower BG Nacetyl aspartate relative to NU. In the virologically suppressed subgroup, however, ANI and MND had higher FGM choline compared to NU. Overall, HAND showed specific alterations (more aWM and inflammation; less gray matter volume and lower NAA). Some MR measures differentiated less severe subtypes of HAND from HAD. These MR alterations may represent legacy effects or accumulating changes, possibly related to medical comorbidities, antiretroviral therapy, or chronic effects of HIV brain infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience