HIV infection across aging: Synergistic effects on intrinsic functional connectivity of the brain

Anna R. Egbert, Bharat Biswal, Keerthana Deepti Karunakaran, Agnieszka Pluta, Tomasz Wolak, Stephen Rao, Robert Bornstein, Bogna Szymańska, Andrzej Horban, Ewa Firląg-Burkacka, Marta Sobańska, Natalia Gawron, Przemysław Bieńkowski, Halina Sienkiewicz-Jarosz, Anna Ścińska-Bieńkowska, Emilia Łojek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The objective of the study was to examine additive and synergistic effects of age and HIV infection on resting state (RS) intra- and inter-network functional connectivity (FC) of the brain. We also aimed to assess relationships with neurocognition and determine clinical-, treatment-, and health-related factors moderating intrinsic brain activity in aging HIV-positive (HIV+) individuals. The current report presents data on 54 HIV+ individuals (age M = 41, SD = 12 years) stabilized on cART and 54 socio-demographically matched healthy (HIV−) comparators (age M = 43, SD = 12 years), with cohort education mean of 16 years (SD = 12). Age at seroconversion ranged 20–55 years old. ANOVA assessed additive and synergistic effects of age and HIV in 133 ROIs. Bivariate statistics examined relationships of FC indices vulnerable to age-HIV interactions and neurocognitive domains T-scores (attention, executive, memory, psychomotor, semantic skills). Multivariate logistic models determined covariates of FC. This study found no statistically significant age-HIV effects on RS-FC after correcting for multiple comparisons except for synergistic effects on connectivity within cingulo-opercular network (CON) at the trending level. However, for uncorrected RS connectivity analyses, we observed HIV-related strengthening between regions of fronto-parietal network (FPN) and default mode network (DMN), and particular DMN regions and sensorimotor network (SMN). Simultaneously, FC weakening was observed within FPN and between other regions of DMN-SMN, in HIV+ vs. HIV- individuals. Ten ROI pairs revealed age-HIV interactions, with FC decreasing with age in HIV+, while increasing in controls. FC correlated with particular cognitive domains positively in HIV+ vs. negatively in HIV- group. Proportion of life prior-to-after HIV-seroconversion, post-infection years, and treatment determined within-FPN and SMN-DMN FC. In sum, highly functioning HIV+/cART+ patients do not reveal significantly altered RS-FC from healthy comparators. Nonetheless, the current findings uncorrected for multiple comparisons suggest that HIV infection may lead to simultaneous increases and decreases in FC in distinct brain regions even in patients successfully stabilized on cART. Moreover, RS-fMRI ROI-based analysis can be sensitive to age-HIV interactions, which are especially pronounced for inter-network FC in relation to neurocognition. Aging and treatment-related factors partially explain RS-FC in aging HIV+ patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Aging
  • Functional connectivity
  • HIV
  • Neurocognition
  • ROI-based approach
  • RS-fMRI
  • cART


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