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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1997 Aug 10;13(12):1055-66.

Brain proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in HIV-related encephalopathy: identification of evolving metabolic patterns in relation to dementia and therapy.

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Centre de Résonance Magnétique Biologique et Médicale, UMR CNRS No. 6612, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille, France.


Proton MRS has proved useful in the early diagnosis of HIV-related encephalopathy. The modifications of brain metabolism in HIV-related encephalopathy can be classified according to different metabolic patterns (Vion-Dury J et al. CR Acad Sci 1994;317:833-840). The present study describes the relative occurrence of these patterns and evaluates their evolution under zidovudine treatment. We have examined 112 HIV patients--35 neuroasymptomatic patients and 77 patients with ADC (AIDS dementia complex)--with localized proton MRS, using the PRESS 135-msec sequence. We have found the same metabolic modifications in N-acetylaspartate and choline-containing compounds as described in the literature. In addition, 14% of HIV patients with normal MRI displayed abnormal MRS, whatever their neurological status. The MRS-added diagnostic value in neuroasymptomatic patients reaches 30 %. The occurrence of undifferentiated (modification of NAA/Cho ratio only) and Cho (mainly an increase in choline signal) patterns is not significantly different in neuroasymptomatic and ADC patients. The NAA pattern (mainly a significant loss of NAA) is more frequent in ADC patients. Only ADC patients display the double pattern (with a significant increase in choline signal and a significant loss of NAA). Quantitated cerebral atrophy (bifrontal ratio) is related to the occurrence of NAA loss (in NAA and double patterns). An MRS follow-up study of 11 HIV patients showed that the clinical outcome was favorable after a 1000-mg/day zidovudine treatment in patients displaying an NAA pattern whereas this treatment had no effect on the patients displaying the Cho pattern. Consequently, MRS appears to be of great interest in predicting responsiveness to antiretroviral drugs and detecting early any resistance to treatment.

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