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Brain Connect. 2017 Mar;7(2):115-122. doi: 10.1089/brain.2016.0457. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Topological Organization of Whole-Brain White Matter in HIV Infection.

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1 Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Saint Louis , Saint Louis, Missouri.
2 Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Washington University in Saint Louis , Saint Louis, Missouri.
3 Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California , Los Angeles, California.
4 Computer Science Department, Brown University , Providence, Rhode Island.
5 Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town , Cape Town, South Africa .
6 MRC Unit on Anxiety & Stress Disorders , Cape Town, South Africa .
7 Missouri Institute of Mental Health , St. Louis, Missouri.


Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is associated with neuroimaging alterations. However, little is known about the topological organization of whole-brain networks and the corresponding association with cognition. As such, we examined structural whole-brain white matter connectivity patterns and cognitive performance in 29 HIV+ young adults (mean age = 25.9) with limited or no HIV treatment history. HIV+ participants and demographically similar HIV- controls (n = 16) residing in South Africa underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological testing. Structural network models were constructed using diffusion MRI-based multifiber tractography and T1-weighted MRI-based regional gray matter segmentation. Global network measures included whole-brain structural integration, connection strength, and structural segregation. Cognition was measured using a neuropsychological global deficit score (GDS) as well as individual cognitive domains. Results revealed that HIV+ participants exhibited significant disruptions to whole-brain networks, characterized by weaker structural integration (characteristic path length and efficiency), connection strength, and structural segregation (clustering coefficient) than HIV- controls (p < 0.05). GDSs and performance on learning/recall tasks were negatively correlated with the clustering coefficient (p < 0.05) in HIV+ participants. Results from this study indicate disruption to brain network integrity in treatment-limited HIV+ young adults with corresponding abnormalities in cognitive performance.


HIV; cognition; network analysis; whole-brain connectivity

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