Morphometric and functional findings about the ínsula in HIV+ population with apathy

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Elba Beatriz Tornese & Martín Javier Mazzoglio y Nabar


The insular cortex is one of the components of the paralimbic zone that has connections with cortical and subcortical areas. The study in people living with HIV (PLHIV), in which apathy is frequent, implicated the structure as a modulator of emotional and executive responses. The objective is to make a description based on morphometry and functionality of the insula in relation to cortical and subcortical structures in PLHIV with apathy compared to controls and compared to PLHIV without apathy, in order to determine its implication. We studied 23 brains of male PLHIV with apathy according to neuropsychiatric evaluations. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with cognitive quantification protocol and Single photon emission tomography (SPECT) to evaluate cortical perfusion were used applied to: frontal cortices, insular cortex, caudate nuclei and amygdaloid bodies. We recorded a significant morphometric reduction of the left anterior cingulate cortex, left caudate nucleus and dorso-lateral cortex in PLHIV with apathy; anterior insula cortex recorded a non-significant reduction (p = 0.4). Functional analysis showed hypoperfusion in the left anterior cingulum cortex, left anterior insular region and caudate nucleus ́s perfusion were assymetrically; relative hypoperfusion were found in right hemisphere regions. The perfusion of the left anterior insula was correlated with ipsilateral caudate and proportional to the severity in the apathy test. We concluded in the cohort evaluated patients living with HIV and apathy found a significant functional compromise of the anterior insular cortex, correlated with morphometric and functional impairment of the caudate nuclei. The implication of the insular cortex suggests their participation in the psychopathology of apathy, parameter linked with the deficit of interest in the activities and initiatives.

KEY WORDS: Insula; Apathy; HIV; MR; SPECT.

How to cite this article

TORNESE, E. B. & MAZZOGLIO Y NABAR, M. J. Morphometric and functional findings about the ínsula in HIV+ population with apathy. Int. J. Morphol., 35(1):273-286, 2017.