Conjoint Senior Principal Scientist, NeuRA
Professor of Brain Sciences, UNSW
Director (Medicine) EPICentre, UNSW
Director (Research) NeuRA Imaging
Honorary Associate, Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney
School of Medical Sciences, UNSW
+612 9399 1211
Prof Caroline Rae is a biochemist with a background in magnetic resonance and interdisciplinary brain research. She graduated with a PhD in biochemistry and NMR from The University of Sydney in 1993 and spent four years in Oxford, UK, as a Nuffield Medical Fellow where she pioneered the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a tool in cognitive brain research. In 2005 she was appointed to UNSW as a New South Global Professor, one of only a handful of NHMRC R Douglas Wright Fellows subsequently appointed to chairs. She is currently director of the UNSW Node of the National Imaging Facility and holds a cross-disciplinary (STEM) appointment in medical data visualisation as a Director of the UNSW Expanded Perception and Interaction Centre (EPICentre).
DR MARK SCHIRA
Honorary Senior Research Officer
: +612 9399 1131
ZOEY ISHERWOOD PhD student
BEN ROWLANDS PhD student
The objective of the current study was to quantify the degree of white matter (WM) abnormalities in chronic and virally suppressed HIV-infected (HIV+) persons while carefully taking into account demographic and disease factors. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was conducted in 40 HIV- and 82 HIV+ men with comparable demographics and life style factors. The HIV+ sample was clinically stable with successful viral control. Diffusion was measured across 32 non-colinear directions with a b-value of 1000 s/mm; fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) maps were quantified with Itrack IDL. Using the ENIGMA DTI protocol, FA and MD values were extracted for each participant and in 11 skeleton regions of interest (SROI) from standard labels in the JHU ICBM-81 atlas covering major striato-frontal and parietal tracks. We found no major differences in FA and MD values across the 11 SROI between study groups. Within the HIV+ sample, we found that a higher CNS penetrating antiretroviral treatment, higher current CD4+ T cell count, and immune recovery from the nadir CD4+ T cell count were associated with increased FA and decreased MD (p < 0.05-0.006), while HIV duration, symptomatic, and asymptomatic cognitive impairment were associated with decreased FA and increased MD (p < 0.01-0.004). Stability of HIV treatment and antiretroviral CNS penetration efficiency in addition to current and historical immune recovery were related to higher FA and lower MD (p = 0.04-p < 0.01). In conclusion, WM DTI measures are near normal except for patients with neurocognitive impairment and longer HIV disease duration.
To assess whether HIV-related brain injury is progressive in persons with suppressed HIV infection. Our study reveals covertly active or progressing HIV-related brain injury in the majority of this virally suppressed cohort, reflecting ongoing neuropathogenic processes that are only partially worsened by historical HAND and HIV duration. Longer-term studies will be important for determining the prognosis of these slowly evolving neurochemical abnormalities.
Abnormal substantia nigra morphology in healthy individuals, viewed with transcranial ultrasound, is a significant risk factor for Parkinson's disease. However, little is known about the functional consequences of this abnormality (termed 'hyperechogenicity') on movement. The aim of the current study was to investigate hand function in healthy older adults with (SN+) and without (SN-) substantia nigra hyperechogenicity during object manipulation. We hypothesised that SN+ subjects would exhibit increased grip force and a slower rate of force application compared to SN- subjects. Twenty-six healthy older adults (8 SN+ aged 58 ± 8 years, 18 SN- aged 57 ± 6 years) were asked to grip and lift a light-weight object with the dominant hand. Horizontal grip force, vertical lift force, acceleration, and first dorsal interosseus EMG were recorded during three trials. During the first trial, SN+ subjects exhibited a longer period between grip onset and lift onset (i.e. preload duration; 0.27 ± 0.25 s) than SN- subjects (0.13 ± 0.08 s; P = 0.046). They also exerted a greater downward force prior to lift off (-0.54 ± 0.42 N vs. -0.21 ± 0.12 N; P = 0.005) and used a greater grip force to lift the object (19.5 ± 7.0 N vs. 14.0 ± 4.3 N; P = 0.022) than SN- subjects. No between group differences were observed in subsequent trials. SN+ subjects exhibit impaired planning for manipulation of new objects. SN+ individuals over-estimate the grip force required, despite a longer contact period prior to lifting the object. The pattern of impairment observed in SN+ subjects shares similarities with de novo Parkinson's disease patients.