Postural instability in HIV infection: relation to central and peripheral nervous system markers


Sullivan, Edith V., Natalie M. Zahr, Stephanie A. Sassoon, Kilian M. Pohl, and Adolf Pfefferbaum. “Postural instability in HIV infection: relation to central and peripheral nervous system markers.” AIDS (London, England) (2023).



Determine the independent contributions of central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) metrics to balance instability in people with HIV (PWH) compared with people without HIV (PWoH).


Volumetric MRI (CNS) and two-point pedal discrimination (PNS) were tested as substrates of stance instability measured with balance platform posturography.


125 PWH and 88 PWoH underwent balance testing and brain MRI.


The PWH exhibited stability deficits that were disproportionately greater with eyes closed than eyes open compared with PWoH. Further analyses revealed that greater postural imbalance measured as longer sway paths correlated with smaller cortical and cerebellar lobular brain volumes known to serve sensory integration; identified brain/sway path relations endured after accounting for contributions from physiological and disease factors as potential moderators; and multiple regression identified PNS and CNS metrics as independent predictors of postural instability in PWH that differed with the use of visual information to stabilize balance. With eyes closed, temporal volumes and two-point pedal discrimination were significant independent predictors of sway; with eyes open, occipital volume was an additional predictor of sway. These relations were selective to PWH and were not detected in PWoH.


CNS and PNS factors were independent contributors to postural instability in PWH. Recognizing that myriad inputs must be detected by peripheral systems and brain networks to integrate sensory and musculoskeletal information for maintenance of postural stability, age- or disease-related degradation of either or both nervous systems may contribute to imbalance and liability for falls.

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