Evaluation of Synaptic Density in Individuals Living with HIV using Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Synapses are the connections between neurons, the cells of the nervous system that carry information through electrical impulses. Synaptic function and connectivity may be impaired during HIV infection, and synaptic loss could possibly lead to neurological and cognitive symptoms experienced by people living with HIV. This study capitalizes on new available neuroimaging technologies developed at Yale by using a new radiotracer - 11C-UCB-J - to better understand synaptic density in the brains of people living with HIV. This radiotracer attaches to a protein in the brain called synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A), which can be used for imaging synaptic density in the human brain using a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Examination of the distribution of the radiotracer in a PET scan, in combination with a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), allows us to examine synaptic density in HIV and has the potential to help us understand the effects of HIV on the brain over time.
The National Institute of Mental Health