Persons with advanced human immunodeficiency virus type one (HIV-1) infection seek medical advice for a wide range of neurological disorders including, but not limited to, peripheral neuropathy, toxoplasmosis, cryptococcal meningitis, cytomegalovirus retinitis progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, lymphoma and dementia. The diagnosis of HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD) induced as a direct consequence of HIV infection of the brain comes commonly by exclusion. Diagnostic decisions can often be clouded by concomitant depression, motor impairments, and lethargy that follow debilitating immune suppression and weight loss. Indeed, cognitive, motor and behavior abnormalities underlie a variety of neurological dysfunctions associated with advanced HIV-1 infection. Thus, even combinations of clinical, laboratory and neuroimaging tests [for example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET)] often fail to provide conclusive diagnostic information. Nonetheless, the recent development of quantitative MR spectroscopic imaging has improved diagnostic possibilities for HAD. We are pleased to discuss these developments as well as taking a forward look into what will soon be made available to improve neuroimaging diagnostic precision. New MR and SPECT testing are being developed in our laboratories and elsewhere both for animal model systems and in humans with HIV-1 disease. Such tests can facilitate dynamic measures of HIV-1 neuropathogenesis providing information for disease events that even 2 years ago were unattainable.
Keywords: associated dementia, mononuclear phagocytes, cognitive dysfunction, magnetic resonance imaging, mri, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mrs, had, encephalitis, single photon emission computed tomography