Pontocerebellar Contribution to Postural Instability and Psychomotor Slowing in HIV Infection Without Dementia


Sullivan, E.V., Rosenbloom, M.J., Rohlfing, T. et al. Pontocerebellar contribution to postural instability and psychomotor slowing in HIV infection without dementia. Brain Imaging and Behavior 5, 12–24 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-010-9107-y


Postural instability occurs in HIV infection, but quantitative balance tests in conjunction with neuroimaging are lacking. We examined whether infratentorial brain tissue volume would be deficient in nondemented HIV-infected individuals and whether selective tissue deficits would be related to postural stability and psychomotor speed performance. The 123 participants included 28 men and 12 women with HIV infection without dementia or alcohol use disorders, and 40 men and 43 women without medical or psychiatric conditions. Participants completed quantitative balance testing, Digit Symbol test, and a test of finger movement speed and dexterity. An infratentorial brain region, supratentorial ventricular system, and corpus callosum were quantified with MRI-derived atlas-based parcellation, and together with archival DTI-derived fiber tracking of pontocerebellar and internal and external capsule fiber systems, brain measures were correlated with test performance. The tissue ratio of the infratentorium was ~3% smaller in the HIV than control group. The HIV group exhibited performance deficits in balancing on one foot, walking toe-to-heel, Digit Symbol substitution task, and time to complete all Digit Symbol grid boxes. Total infratentorial tissue ratio was a significant predictor of balance and Digit Symbol scores. Balance scores did not correlate significantly with ventricular volumes, callosal size, or internal or external capsule fiber integrity but did so with indices of pontocerebellar tract integrity. HIV-infected individuals specifically recruited to be without complications from alcohol use disorders had pontocerebellar tissue volume deficits with functional ramifications. Postural stability and psychomotor speed were impaired and attributable, at least in part, to compromised infratentorial brain systems.

Keywords: MRI, DTI, Cerebellum, Pons, Vermis, Gait, Postural stability, HIV infection, Motor speed, Dexterity, Falling, Ataxia

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