Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

AIDS inflicts specific pattern of brain damage, reveals UCLA/Pittsburgh imaging study

11.10.2005


Antiretroviral drugs don’t halt damage



A new UCLA/University of Pittsburgh imaging study for the first time shows the selective pattern of destruction inflicted by AIDS on brain regions that control motor, language and sensory functions. High-resolution 3-D color scans created from magnetic resonance images (MRI) vividly illustrate the damage.

Published Oct. 10 by the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research offers a new way to measure the impact of AIDS on the living brain, and reveals that the brain is still vulnerable to infection when patients are receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).


"Two big surprises came out of this study," explained Paul Thompson, Ph.D., first author and associate professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "First, that AIDS is selective in how it attacks the brain. Second, drug therapy does not appear to slow the damage. The brain provides a sanctuary for HIV where most drugs cannot follow."

Thompson’s laboratory used a new 3-D brain-mapping technique developed at UCLA to analyze the MRIs of 26 people diagnosed with AIDS, and then compared the scans to those of 14 HIV-negative people. The brain scans measured the thickness of gray matter in various regions of the cerebral cortex.

The University of Pittsburgh diagnosed and scanned the AIDS patients; all 26 subjects had lost at least half of their T-cells, the immune cells targeted by HIV. None had experienced AIDS-related dementia, and 13 were on HAART.

The striking differences between the AIDS patients’ and the control subjects’ brain scans were easy to see on the detailed 3-D images. Areas of tissue loss glowed red and yellow, while intact regions shone blue and green.

The researchers were surprised to discover that AIDS consistently injured the brain’s motor, language and judgment centers, but left other areas alone. Specific patterns of tissue damage directly correlated with patients’ physical and mental symptoms, including impaired motor coordination and slowed reflexes.

"The brain scan really catches AIDS red-handed, allowing us to see precisely where the damage is," Thompson observed. "For the first time, we can understand why motor skills deteriorate with AIDS, because the virus attacks the motor centers on top of the brain."

"We saw up to a 15-percent tissue loss in the brain centers that regulate motor skills, such as movement and coordination," added Thompson. "This helps explain the slowed reflexes and disruption of balance and gait that often affect people with early AIDS."

The UCLA team also linked thinning of the language cortex and reasoning center to depletion of T-cells from the immune system. The finding may shed light on why AIDS is often accompanied by mild vocabulary loss, judgment problems and difficulty planning. As the disease advances, these symptoms can worsen into memory loss and dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

"Tissue loss follows T-cell loss, meaning that people with poor immune function also show severe brain damage," explained Thompson. "This was a revelation. We used to consider these separate phenomena, because HIV harms the brain and immune system in different ways. Now we see they are intrinsically linked."

"This is an exciting finding, not only because we can now see the effects of HIV/AIDS on the cortex, but also because it reinforces the importance of using sophisticated neuroimaging measurements as biomarkers for the effects of the virus on the brain," said James Becker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. "Techniques such as these may also prove useful in evaluating the effects of HIV-medications on the brain."

The researchers were most startled to see no difference in tissue loss between the patients taking HAART and those who were not.

"This was the most terrifying aspect of our findings," said Thompson. "Even though antiretroviral drugs rescue the immune system, AIDS is still stalking the brain. A protective blood barrier prevents drugs from entering the brain, transforming it into a reservoir where HIV can multiply and attack cells unchecked."

The scientists hail brain imaging as a useful method for monitoring AIDS and evaluating new drugs’ effect on disease progression. The technique can be powerfully applied to gauge patients’ response to therapy, even before the onset of dementia or opportunistic infections.

"Brain mapping can help physicians monitor patients with more accurate detail than they can obtain by counting T-cells," said Thompson. "The scans also can test new drugs’ ability to penetrate the brain during clinical trials."

One in 100 people aged 15 to 49 is infected with HIV, the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. In 2004, 40 million people were living with the disease. Forty percent of AIDS patients suffer from progressive neurological symptoms, typically leading to death.

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>