Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We previously reported that neuropathic pain was associated with smaller posterior cingulate cortical (PCC) volumes, suggesting that a smaller/dysfunctional PCC may contribute to development of pain via impaired mind wandering. A gap in our previous report was lack of evidence for a mechanism for the genesis of PCC atrophy in HIV peripheral neuropathy. Here we investigate if volumetric differences in the subcortex for those with neuropathic paresthesia may contribute to smaller PCC volumes, potentially through deafferentation of ascending white matter tracts resulting from peripheral nerve damage in HIV neuropathy. Since neuropathic pain and paresthesia are highly correlated, statistical decomposition was used to separate pain and paresthesia symptoms to determine which regions of brain atrophy are associated with both pain and paresthesia and which are associated separately with pain or paresthesia. HIV+ individuals (N = 233) with and without paresthesia in a multisite study underwent structural brain magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry and a segmentation/registration tool were used to investigate regional brain volume changes associated with paresthesia. Analysis of decomposed variables found that smaller midbrain and thalamus volumes were associated with paresthesia rather than pain. However, atrophy in the PCC was related to both pain and paresthesia. Peak thalamic atrophy (p = 0.004; MNI x = - 14, y = - 24, z = - 2) for more severe paresthesia was in a region with reciprocal connections with the PCC. This provides initial evidence that smaller PCC volumes in HIV peripheral neuropathy are related to ascending white matter deafferentation caused by small fiber damage observed in HIV peripheral neuropathy.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurovirol

Publication Date



Brain, HIV, Imaging, Paresthesia, Peripheral neuropathy