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Depression is associated with hippocampal volume loss in adults with HIV.

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Depressive symptoms are more prevalent in persons with HIV (PWH) than HIV-uninfected individuals. In HIV-uninfected individuals, depression has been associated with atrophy in the hippocampus and other brain regions. In the present study, we investigated the impact of depression on brain structure in PWH. One hundred PWH participated in a cross-sectional study (56.6 ± 6.4 yrs, range 41-70 yrs, 24 females, 63 African Americans). The Beck's Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) was used to assess depressive symptoms. Structural MRI images were collected. Both the voxel-based morphometry (VBM) technique and a region of interest (ROI) based approach were used to examine the relationship between hippocampal gray matter volume (GMv) and depressive symptoms. The impact of HIV CD4 nadir and antidepressants was also investigated. Both VBM and ROI approaches revealed that higher BDI-II scores (implicating more severe depressive symptoms) were associated with loss of hippocampal GMv, especially in the right hippocampus and the right entorhinal cortex. Low CD4 nadir predicted additional hippocampal volume loss independent of depressive symptoms. Taking antidepressants did not have a detectable effect on hippocampal volume. In summary, having more depressive symptoms is associated with smaller hippocampal volume in PWH, and a history of severe immunosuppression (i.e., low CD4 nadir) correlates with additional hippocampal volume reduction. However, the impact of depression on hippocampal volume may be independent of HIV-disease severity such as low CD4 nadir.

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