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J Neurovirol. 2015 Apr;21(2):120-8. doi: 10.1007/s13365-014-0311-1. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

Clinical associations of white matter damage in cART-treated HIV-positive children in South Africa.

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Division of Liaison Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa,


A range of factors contributes to white matter damage in vertically infected HIV-positive children. These may include combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) regimen, sociodemographic factors, nutritional-hematological status, HIV-relevant clinical variables, and cognitive functioning. We explored associations between a number of these factors and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures in 50 cART-treated children aged 6 to 15 years. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusion (MD), radial diffusion (RD), and axial diffusion (AD) were derived from 48 cerebral white matter regions. Significant associations between a number of the clinical variables and white matter integrity were found. Decreased FA, a measure of neuronal damage, was associated with being on second-line cART, low hemoglobin, and younger age. Children with increased MD, a measure of neuronal damage, were younger, had reduced albumin and hemoglobin, and increased viral load. Decreased AD, a measure of axonal damage, was associated with increased viral load and total protein, decreased albumin and hemoglobin, younger age, poorer fronto-striatal cognition, and being on second-line cART. Increased RD, a measure of myelin loss, was associated with younger age, low current CD4 count, low albumin and hemoglobin, and higher viral load and total protein. The current findings underline the possible association of first-line treatment failure with white matter brain dysfunction in pediatric neuroHIV and the importance of examining the effects of HIV disease in the context of treatable clinical variables such as anemia and nutritional status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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