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Neuroimaging Studies

Evaluation of Synaptic Density in HIV and Other Infections 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 reduced by exposure of the neurons to infectious agents and immunological responses. Such synaptic loss could possibly lead to neurological and cognitive symptoms experienced by some people with infectious conditions. Our brain imaging studies capitalize 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 and other infections. This radiotracer attaches to a protein in the brain valled 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 non-invasively examine synaptic density in living people and has the potential to help us understand the effects of HIV and other infections on the brain over time.

Supporting Grants

R01MH125396 (PI Spudich) PET Imaging of Synaptic Density Combined with Neuroimmunologic Measures to Reveal Mechanisms of HIV Neuropathogenesis during ART

R21MH118023 (PI Spudich) In vivo imaging of synaptic density in virally suppressed HIV-1 infection using 11CUCB-J PET