Background: Documented death and dysfunction of basal ganglia cells in patients seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) suggest that the virus may cause structural compromise to these regions.
Objectives: To examine subcortical volumes in nondemented patients seropositive for HIV (HIV+) by means of a novel automated neuroanatomic morphometric analysis tool, and to investigate relationships among cognitive function, immune health, and subcortical volumes.
Design and setting: Cross-sectional study of subcortical morphometry and cognitive function conducted at the Boston University Center for Memory and Brain and the Massachusetts General Hospital Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
Patients: Twenty-two nondemented HIV+ patients and 22 age- and education-matched healthy control participants.
Main outcome measures: Subcortical segmentation volumes, neuropsychological performance, and immunological variables.
Results: Nondemented HIV+ patients demonstrated relative and isolated putamen hypertrophy compared with control participants. Putamen volume enlargement in HIV+ patients was related to motor slowing and immune status, such that higher CD4 lymphocyte levels were associated with larger putamen volumes. There were no other subcortical volume differences between the groups.
Conclusions: This study suggests that basal ganglia hypertrophy accompanies HIV-related mild cognitive compromise. These findings may represent a structural imaging parallel to functional imaging studies demonstrating basal ganglia hypermetabolism in HIV+ patients with mild cognitive compromise and early HIV-associated brain disease.