Pancreatitis in pediatric human immunodeficiency virus infection

J Pediatr. 1992 Feb;120(2 Pt 1):223-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)80431-7.


Because pancreatitis has been reported frequently in adults with human immunodeficiency virus infection, we sought to determine the incidence of pancreatitis in children with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome by reviewing all records of children with AIDS, their serum amylase and lipase levels, and the factors associated with pancreatitis through a case-control analysis. During a 6-year period pancreatitis developed in 9 (17%) of 53 pediatric patients with AIDS. Six children had vertical transmission of infection and three patients had acquired HIV infection through contaminated blood products. Pancreatitis developed at a median age of 5.2 years (range 1.2 to 20 years). All patients had vomiting and abdominal pain. When the patients were first seen, lipase values were elevated more than amylase values (p = 0.028). Amylase and lipase levels declined at comparable rates. In the case-control analysis, pentamidine isethionate was significantly associated with pancreatitis (p = 0.02); the risk was greater in patients who received pentamidine isethionate and had absolute CD4 T-lymphocyte counts less than 100 cells/mm3 (p = 0.001). Infections associated with the onset of pancreatitis included cytomegalovirus (4), Cryptosporidium (1), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (3), and Mycobacterium avium intracellulare (1). Coinfection with cytomegalovirus was associated with a protracted course in four children. Ultrasonographic examination demonstrated biliary ductal dilatation 6 months after the onset of pancreatitis in one child. Seven children have died at a mean of 8 months after the initial onset of pancreatitis; the one living child has survived 5 months from the onset of pancreatitis. We conclude that pancreatitis is common in pediatric patients with AIDS and may be related to pentamidine isethionate exposure, especially when absolute CD4 T-lymphocyte counts are less than 100 cells/mm3. Serum amylase levels do not always accurately predict the onset of pancreatitis; serum lipase levels should be measured in children with symptoms. The onset of pancreatitis in an HIV-infected child is a poor prognostic indicator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amylases / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lipase / blood
  • Male
  • Opportunistic Infections / complications
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Pancreatitis / enzymology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets


  • Lipase
  • Amylases