In perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV) children, neurodevelopment occurs in the presence of HIV-infection, and even with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) the brain can be a reservoir for latent HIV. Consequently, patients often demonstrate long-term cognitive deficits and developmental delay, which may be reflected in altered functional brain activity. Our objective was to examine brain function in PHIV on cART by quantifying the amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF) and regional homogeneity (ReHo). Further, we studied ALFF and ReHo changes with neuropsychological performance and measures of immune health including CD4 count and viral loads in the HIV-infected youths. We found higher ALFF and ReHo in cerebral white matter in the medial orbital lobe for PHIV (N = 11, age mean ± sd = 22.5 ± 2.9 years) compared to controls (N = 16, age = 22.5 ± 3.0 years), with age and gender as co-variates. Bilateral cerebral white matter showed increased spontaneous regional activity in PHIV compared to healthy controls. No brain regions showed lower ALFF or ReHo in PHIV compared to controls. Higher log10 viral load was associated with higher ALFF and ReHo in PHIV in bilateral cerebral white matter and right cerebral white matter respectively after masking the outcomes intrinsic to the brain regions that showed significantly higher ALFF and ReHo in the PHIV compared to the control. Reductions in social cognition and abstract thinking in PHIV were correlated with higher ALFF at the left cerebral white matter in the left medial orbital gyrus and higher ReHo at the right cerebral white matter in the PHIV patients. Although neuroinflammation and associated neuro repair were not directly measured, the findings support their potential role in PHIV impacting neurodevelopment and cognition.
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