Brain arterial remodeling contribution to nonembolic brain infarcts in patients with HIV

Neurology. 2015 Sep 29;85(13):1139-45. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001976. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


Background: Cerebrovascular disease is a cause of morbidity in HIV-infected populations. The relationship among HIV infection, brain arterial remodeling, and stroke is unclear.

Methods: Large brain arteries (n = 1,878 segments) from 284 brain donors with and without HIV were analyzed to obtain media and wall thickness and lumen-to-wall ratio, and to determine the presence of atherosclerosis and dolichoectasia (arterial remodeling extremes). Neuropathologic assessment was used to characterize brain infarcts. Multilevel models were used to assess for associations between arterial characteristics and HIV. Associations between arterial characteristics and brain infarcts were examined in HIV+ individuals only.

Results: Adjusting for vascular risk factors, HIV infection was associated with thicker arterial walls and smaller lumen-to-wall ratios. Cerebral atherosclerosis accounted for one-quarter of the brain infarcts in HIV+ cases, and was more common with aging, diabetes, a lower CD4 nadir, and a higher antemortem CD4 count. In contrast, a higher lumen-to-wall ratio was the only arterial predictor of unexplained infarcts in HIV+ cases. Dolichoectasia was more common in HIV+ cases with smoking and media thinning, and with protracted HIV infection and a detectable antemortem viral load.

Conclusions: HIV infection may predispose to inward remodeling compared to uninfected controls. However, among HIV+ cases with protracted immunosuppression, outward remodeling is the defining arterial phenotype. Half of all brain infarcts in this sample were attributed to the extremes of brain arterial remodeling: atherosclerosis and dolichoectasia. Understanding the mechanisms influencing arterial remodeling will be important in controlling cerebrovascular disease in the HIV-infected population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Infarction / epidemiology
  • Brain Infarction / pathology*
  • Cerebral Arterial Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Arterial Diseases / pathology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Remodeling*