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This article is the author’s final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 12, Issue 1, March 2022, Article number 4357.

The published version is available at Copyright © Monick et al.


HIV and psychoactive substances can impact the integrity of the basal ganglia (BG), a neural substrate of cognition, motor control, and reward-seeking behaviors. This study assessed BG gray matter (GM) volume as a function of polysubstance (stimulant and opioid) use and HIV status. We hypothesized that comorbid polysubstance use and HIV seropositivity would alter BG GM volume differently than would polysubstance use or HIV status alone. We collected structural MRI scans, substance use history, and HIV diagnoses. Participants who had HIV (HIV +), a history of polysubstance dependence (POLY +), both, or neither completed assessments for cognition, motor function, and risk-taking behaviors (N = 93). All three clinical groups showed a left-lateralized pattern of GM reduction in the BG relative to controls. However, in the HIV + /POLY + group, stimulant use was associated with increased GM volume within the globus pallidus and putamen. This surpassed the effects from opioid use, as indicated by decreased GM volume throughout the BG in the HIV-/POLY + group. Motor learning was impaired in all three clinical groups, and in the HIV + /POLY + group, motor learning was associated with increased caudate and putamen GM volume. We also observed associations between BG GM volume and risk-taking behaviors in the HIV + /POLY- and HIV-/POLY + groups. The effects of substance use on the BG differed as a function of substance type used, HIV seropositivity, and BG subregion. Although BG volume decreased in association with HIV and opioid use, stimulants can, inversely, lead to BG volume increases within the context of HIV.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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