Visceral fat is associated with brain structure independent of human immunodeficiency virus infection status

Jordan E. Lake, Mikhail Popov, Wendy S. Post, Frank J. Palella, Ned Sacktor, Eric N. Miller, Todd T. Brown, James T. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The combined effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), obesity, and elevated visceral adipose tissue (VAT) on brain structure are unknown. In a cross-sectional analysis of Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) participants, we determined associations between HIV serostatus, adiposity, and brain structure. Men (133 HIV+, 84 HIV–) in the MACS Cardiovascular 2 and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sub-studies with CT-quantified VAT and whole brain MRI measured within 1 year were assessed. Voxel-based morphometry analyzed brain volumes. Men were stratified by elevated (eVAT, ≥100cm2) or “normal” (nVAT, <100cm2) VAT. Forward stepwise modeling determined associations between clinical and demographic variables and regional brain volumes. eVAT was present in 67% of men. Groups were similar in age and education, but eVAT men were more likely to be HIV+ and have hypertension, diabetes mellitus, body mass index >25 kg/m2, smaller gray and white matter volumes, and larger cerebrospinal fluid volume than nVAT men. In multivariate analysis, hypertension, higher adiponectin, higher interleukin-6, age, diabetes mellitus, higher body mass index, and eVAT were associated with brain atrophy (p < 0.05, ordered by increasing strength of association), but HIV serostatus and related factors were generally not. No interactions were observed. Greater VAT was associated with smaller bilateral posterior hippocampus and left mesial temporal lobe and temporal stem white matter volume. Traditional risk factors are more strongly associated with brain atrophy than HIV serostatus, with VAT having the strongest association. However, HIV+ MACS men had disproportionately greater VAT, suggesting the risk for central nervous system effects may be amplified in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Brain atrophy
  • Brain volume
  • HIV
  • Visceral fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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