Incidental white matter hyperintensities on magnetic resonance imaging in hiv-1 infection

Justin C. McArthur, Ashok J. Kumar, David W. Johnson, Ola A. Seines, James T. Becker, Charles Herman, Bruce A. Cohen, Alfred Saah, Danna Starkey, Tish Nance-Sproson, Kathy Sheridan, Eric Miller, Paul Satz, Barbara Visscher, Sue Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance (MR) scans were performed as part of a prospective neuropsychological study within the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Fifty HIV-1-seronegative men, 85 HIV-1-seropositive men without constitutional symptoms, and 14 with symptomatic HIV disease underwent MR imaging using a uniform protocol. Scans were rated by neuroradiologists blinded to all clinical details except age. The majority of MR scans were normal in all of the clinical groups and no covert mass lesions or diffuse white matter abnormalities were identified. Focal hyperintensities in the white matter were observed in 24% of the HIV-1 seronegatives, 26% of HIV-1 asymptomatic séropositives (CDC II/III), and 17% of those with ARC/AIDS. No significant associations were noted between the white matter hyperintensities and HIV-1 serostatus, neurological abnormalities, CD4 count, alcohol or drug use, hypertension, or smoking. In one individual classified with early HIV-1 dementia, MR demonstrated several hyperintensities in the deep parietal white matter, but at autopsy no microscopic abnormalities corresponding to the MR findings were identified. Our studies imply that focal white matter hyperintensities identified on MR are not specific for HIV-1 infection and are probably incidental and of no clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-259
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • Alcohol
  • Drug abuse
  • HIV-1 infection
  • Hypertension
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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