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Objective: The current study aims to evaluate the neurologic state of perinatally HIV-infected children on combination antiretroviral therapy and to attain a better insight into the pathogenesis of their persistent neurologic and cognitive deficits.

Methods: We included perinatally HIV-infected children between 8 and 18 years and healthy controls matched for age, sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. All participants underwent a 3.0 T MRI with 3D-T1-weighted, 3D-fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and diffusion-weighted series for the evaluation of cerebral volumes, white matter hyperintensities (WMH), and white matter (WM) diffusion characteristics. Associations with disease-related parameters and cognitive performance were explored using linear regression models.

Results: We included 35 cases (median age 13.8 years) and 37 controls (median age 12.1 years). A lower gray matter and WM volume, more WMH, and a higher WM diffusivity were observed in the cases. Within the HIV-infected children, a poorer clinical, immunologic, and virologic state were negatively associated with volumetric, WMH, and diffusivity markers.

Conclusions: In children with HIV, even when long-term clinically and virologically controlled, we found lower brain volumes, a higher WMH load, and poorer WM integrity compared to matched controls. These differences occur in the context of a poor cognitive performance in the HIV-infected group, and larger, longitudinal studies are needed to increase our understanding of the pathogenesis of cerebral injury in perinatally HIV-infected children.

(C) 2016 American Academy of Neurology