Toxoplasmic encephalitis in AIDS

Clin Infect Dis. 1992 Aug;15(2):211-22. doi: 10.1093/clinids/15.2.211.


Involvement of the central nervous system (CNS) is common in patients with advanced disease due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Symptoms range from lethargy and apathy to coma, incoordination and ataxia to hemiparesis, loss of memory to severe dementia, and focal to major motor seizures. Involvement may be closely associated with HIV infection per se, as in the AIDS dementia complex, but is frequently caused by opportunistic pathogens such as Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptococcus neoformans or malignancies such as primary lymphoma of the CNS. The clinical presentations of attendant and direct CNS involvement are remarkably non-specific and overlapping, yet a correct diagnosis is critical to successful intervention. Toxoplasmic encephalitis is one of the most common and most treatable causes of AIDS-associated pathology of the CNS. A great deal has been learned in the last 10 years about its unique presentation in the HIV-infected patient with advanced disease. Drs. Benjamin J. Luft of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Jack S. Remington of the Stanford University School of Medicine and Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Research Institute have studied T. gondii for many years and are two of the leading experts in the field. This commentary comprises an update of their initial review (J Infect Dis 1988;157:1-6) and a presentation of the current approaches to diagnosing and managing toxoplasmic encephalitis in HIV-infected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Animals
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / etiology*
  • Encephalitis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Toxoplasma / drug effects
  • Toxoplasma / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / etiology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Cerebral / therapy