Youth with perinatally acquired human immunodeficiency virus (PHIV+) survive longer with combination antiretroviral therapy, but remain at risk for poor cognitive outcomes. We evaluated whether markers of HIV disease severity relate to default mode resting-state functional connectivity in PHIV+ youth. We conducted resting-state functional neuroimaging and cognitive testing in a subset of 40 PHIV+ youth recruited from a single study site of the Adolescent Master Protocol study conducted by the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS) network. Current and past HIV disease severity measures (nadir CD4 lymphocyte percentages and peak HIV RNA plasma levels) were obtained from medical charts. We evaluated associations of both HIV disease severity measures and cognitive functioning with between- and within-default mode network (DMN) connectivity using Analysis of Functional NeuroImaging multiple regression analyses, controlling for multiple comparisons. Of the 40 youth, 31 (mean age = 16.5 years) with minimal motion during scans were included. We observed global alterations in DMN within- and between-network connectivity, with significant associations between disease severity and DMN BOLD correlations. Furthermore, patterns of connectivity with the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that varied as a function of peak HIV RNA were found to predict processing speed ability. Alterations in within- and between-network DMN connectivity in PHIV+ youth may reflect global reorganization of the DMN; this could lead to compensatory alterations in both the within- and betweenconnectivity of large-scale networks, which may ultimately relate to known cognitive processing difficulties in PHIV+ youth.
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