News | Neuro Imaging | March 15, 2017

MRI Scans Can Help Spot HIV in the Brain

Some patients show white matter abnormalities even when on effective drug treatment

MRI, HIV in the brain, UCL study, Clinical Infectious Diseases

March 15, 2017 — Scientists at University College London (UCL) have developed a way to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to help identify when HIV is persisting in the brain despite effective drug treatment.

The study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and funded by Wellcome, shows that patients can have HIV in the brain even when the disease is kept under control by treatment.

"Before we had effective treatments for HIV, AIDS often led to dementia and other problems in the brain," explained senior author Prof. Ravi Gupta (UCL Infection & Immunity), who is also an Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at The Hospital for Tropical Diseases, UCLH NHS Foundation Trust. "Thankfully this is less common now that we can treat HIV, but up to half of HIV patients still report cognitive problems. We see evidence that HIV has spread to the brain in around 10 to 15 percent of these patients, but in most cases the symptoms are down to other causes. At the moment we have to perform a lumbar puncture to confirm this, which involves inserting a needle into the back to draw out the spinal fluid and test it for HIV. This is quite an invasive procedure that requires patients to stay in hospital for several hours. Our new study shows that MRI scans could help to identify high-risk individuals for further follow-up tests."

The team looked at data from 146 HIV patients who were investigated for cognitive problems between 2011 and 2015. There was evidence that HIV was active in the brain in 22 patients (15 percent), and patients whose brains showed definite signs of change in the white matter were 10 times more likely to have HIV in the brain than those with normal white matter appearances.

These changes in the brain, called diffuse white matter signal abnormalities, are linked to cognitive problems and can be triggered by inflammation in the brain caused by HIV infection.

"HIV treatments have come a long way, but patients whose HIV is suppressed by drugs can still have cognitive problems due to HIV-related inflammation," said Gupta. "MRI scans can help to diagnose these patients, whether showing an elevated risk of HIV-related problems or finding a different cause that can then be treated. Where HIV has spread to the brain, we can change the treatment regime to add drugs that cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively to control the infection."

For more information: www.academic.oup.com/cid

Related Content

Chest X-ray AI Algorithm Correctly Identifies Lung Disease for Dubai Health Authority
Feature | Artificial Intelligence | April 17, 2018
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced the preliminary results of a chest X-ray artificial intelligence (AI)...
Novel PET Agent Could Help Guide Therapy for Brain Diseases

Rat brain 11C‐Me‐NB1 PET images (0‐60 min) superimposed on an MRI template. Credit: SD Krämer et al., ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

News | PET Imaging | April 10, 2018
Researchers have developed a new imaging agent that could help guide and assess treatments for people with various...
First Patient Treated in Online Adaptive Radiotherapy Trial With CyberKnife System
News | Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) | April 06, 2018
Accuray Inc. and Erasmus MC announced the first patient has been successfully treated using an online-adaptive (OA)...
News | Endoscopes | April 02, 2018
Results from a recent prospective trial found the Wide Area Transepithelial Sampling with 3D Tissue Analysis (WATS3D)...
Edwards Completes Enrollment in PARTNER 3 Low-Risk CT Sub-Study
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | March 27, 2018
March 27, 2018 — Edwards Lifesciences Corp.
Combination Radiotherapy Beneficial in Treating Prostate Cancer
News | Prostate Cancer | March 27, 2018
March 27, 2018 — While there are many treatment options for men with...
3-D Printed Models Improve Medical Student Training
News | Medical 3-D Printing | March 23, 2018
March 23, 2018 — A relatively inexpensive...
Overlay Init