Morphological findings on peripheral nerve biopsies in 15 patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection

Acta Neuropathol. 1992;83(6):618-23. doi: 10.1007/BF00299411.


A peripheral nerve biopsy was performed in 15 patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and polyneuropathy. Two cases [1 asymptomatic, 1 AIDS-related complex (ARC)] presented with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; there was 1 case (asymptomatic) of mononeuropathy multiplex and 12 cases (1 asymptomatic, 1 ARC, 10 AIDS) with distal symmetrical polyneuropathy. Epi- or endoneurial microvasculitis was observed in 6 cases. Electron microscopy showed that nerve fiber lesions were mainly axonal. Severe segmental demyelination was also present in both cases of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, with characteristic features of active demyelination in one. Numerous plasmacytoid cells were found in the endoneurium in 4 patients. Tubuloreticular inclusions were present in endothelial cells in the 10 cases with AIDS but absent in the other patients. Direct immunopathological examination with anti-immunoglobulin sera was negative in all cases. HIV was evidenced by in situ hybridization in 2 AIDS patients; no Epstein-Barr virus or cytomegalovirus was detected.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology*