N-acetylaspartate reductions measured by 1H MRSI in cognitively impaired HIV-seropositive individuals

Magn Reson Imaging. 1994;12(4):653-9. doi: 10.1016/0730-725x(94)92460-0.


We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and water-suppressed proton MR spectroscopic imaging (1H MRSI) to study the effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection on the brain. Our recent in vivo finding of lower N-acetylaspartate (NAA), a putative marker of neurons, in the supraventricular brain of cognitively impaired HIV-seropositive patients (CISP) compared to noninfected controls was replicated in a new cohort of 13 CISP patients and extended to include 10 high-risk homosexual HIV-seronegative controls. Throughout the supraventricular brain the ratio of NAA to choline-containing metabolites (NAA/Cho) was lower in CISP subjects than in high-risk controls (1.98 +/- 0.36 vs. 2.35 +/- 0.29, p = 0.016), and the ratio of NAA to creatine-containing metabolites (NAA/Cr) was also lower in CISP subjects than in high-risk controls (3.02 +/- 0.44 vs. 3.56 +/- 0.39, p = 0.007) with Cho/Cr unchanged in both groups. These findings indicate a NAA reduction which suggests neuron loss and/or dendritic and axonal damage. Homosexual high-risk HIV-seronegative controls had metabolite measures similar to previously studied heterosexual HIV-seronegative controls. NAA measures in six cognitively normal HIV-seropositive subjects (CNSP) (NAA/Cho = 2.34 +/- 0.39, NAA/Cr = 3.42 +/- 0.69) were similar to those of controls and tended to be increased relative to those in cognitively impaired HIV-seropositive subjects. This study demonstrates that reduced NAA in the supraventricular brain is associated with the development of severe cognitive impairments secondary to HIV infection and that 1H MRSI methodology reliably detects HIV effects on the brain.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • HIV Seropositivity / complications
  • HIV Seropositivity / metabolism*
  • HIV Seropositivity / pathology
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate