Frontostriatal Fiber Bundle Compromise in HIV Infection Without Dementia


Pfefferbaum, Adolfa,b; Rosenbloom, Margaret Ja,b; Rohlfing, Torstena; Kemper, Carol Ac,d; Deresinski, Stanleyc; Sullivan, Edith Vb. Frontostriatal fiber bundle compromise in HIV infection without dementia. AIDS: September 24, 2009 – Volume 23 – Issue 15 – p 1977-1985 doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32832e77fe



Quantitative fiber tracking derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to determine whether white matter association, projection, or commissural tracts are affected in nondemented individuals with HIV infection and to identify the regional distribution of sparing and impairment of fiber systems.


DTI measured fractional anisotropy and diffusivity, quantified separately for longitudinal (λL) diffusivity (index of axonal injury) and transverse (λT) diffusivity (index of myelin injury), in 11 association and projection white matter tracts and six commissural tracts in 29 men and 13 women with HIV infection and 88 healthy, age-matched controls (42 men and 46 women).


The total group of HIV-infected individuals had higher diffusivity (principally longitudinal) than controls in the posterior sectors of the corpus callosum, internal and external capsules, and superior cingulate bundles. High longitudinal diffusivity, indicative of axonal compromise, was especially prominent in posterior callosal sectors, fornix, and superior cingulate bundle in HIV with AIDS. Unmedicated patients had notably high transverse diffusivity, indicative of myelin compromise, in the occipital forceps, inferior cingulate bundle, and superior longitudinal fasciculus. Pontocerebellar projection fibers were resistant to HIV effects as were commissural fibers coursing through premotor and sensorimotor callosal sectors.


This quantitative survey of brain fiber tract integrity indicates that even nondemented HIV patients can have neuroradiological evidence for damage to association and commissural tracts. These abnormalities were vulnerable to exacerbation with AIDS and possibly mitigated by HAART.

Keywords: AIDS; brain; cognition; dementia; diffusion tensor imaging; HAART; HIV; MRI; white matter

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