Objective: To assess if HIV-infected patients on long-term successful combination antiretroviral therapy show cerebral blood flow (CBF) alterations in comparison with HIV-uninfected, otherwise similar controls. To explore whether such alterations are associated with HIV-associated cognitive impairment and to explore potential determinants of CBF alterations in HIV.
Design: Cross-sectional comparison of CBF in an observational cohort study.
Methods: Clinical, cognitive and MRI data of 100 middle-aged aviremic HIV-infected men on combination antiretroviral therapy and 69 HIV-uninfected controls were collected and compared. From pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling MRI data, CBF-maps were calculated. The associations of mean gray matter CBF with clinical and cognitive parameters were explored in regression models, followed by a spatial delineation in a voxel-based analysis.
Results: CBF was decreased in HIV-infected patients compared with HIV-uninfected controls (P = 0.02), adjusted for age, ecstasy use and waist circumference. Spatially distinct and independent effects of total gray matter volume and HIV-serostatus on CBF were found. Within the HIV-infected group, decreased CBF was associated with increased triglyceride levels (P = 0.005) and prior clinical AIDS (P = 0.03). No association between CBF and cognitive impairment was found.
Conclusion: Decreased CBF was observed among HIV-infected patients, which was associated with both vascular risk factors as well as with measures of past immune deficiency. These results provide support for increased vascular disease in HIV-infected patients as represented by hemodynamic alteration, but without overt cognitive consequences within the current cohort of patients on long-term successful treatment.