BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Fractional anisotropy in the frontal white matter, corpus callosum, and internal capsule is abnormal in human immunodeficiency virus-positive (HIV+) adults. We describe the distribution and nature of white matter abnormalities in a cohort of children who started antiretroviral therapy within the first year of life and the benefit of early treatment by using DTI measures (fractional anisotropy and mean, axial, and radial diffusion).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
DTI was performed on children in a neurodevelopmental substudy from the Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral trial. Voxel-based group comparisons were obtained to determine regions where fractional anisotropy and mean diffusion differed between HIV+ and uninfected children. Associations of DTI parameters with the timing of antiretroviral therapy initiation were examined.
Thirty-nine HIV+ children (15 boys; mean age, 5.4 years) and 13 controls (5 boys; mean age, 5.7 years) were scanned. Two clusters with lower fractional anisotropy and 7 clusters with increased mean diffusion were identified in the HIV+ group, with symmetric distribution predominantly due to increased radial diffusion, suggestive of decreased myelination. Corticospinal tracts rather than the corpus callosum were predominantly involved. Children on early-interrupted antiretroviral therapy had lower fractional anisotropy compared with those receiving continuous treatment.
HIV+ children at 5 years of age have white matter abnormalities measured by fractional anisotropy, despite early antiretroviral therapy, suggesting that early antiretroviral therapy does not fully protect the white matter from either peripartum or in utero infection. In contrast to adults, the corticospinal tracts are predominantly involved rather than the corpus callosum, possibly due to early antiretroviral therapy. Continuous early antiretroviral therapy can limit white matter damage.