Cryptococcosis and idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia

Medicine (Baltimore). 2007 Mar;86(2):78-92. doi: 10.1097/md.0b013e31803b52f5.


We reviewed the cases of 11 patients with cryptococcosis and idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia (ICL) referred to our institution in the previous 12 years, as well as 42 similar cases reported in the literature, to assess the characteristics of the infection in this population. Cryptococcosis in 53 patients with ICL had features in common with cryptococcosis in previously normal patients. ICL patients had a slight male predominance (1.2:1) and a median age of presentation of 41 years (range, 4.5-85 yr). Initial cerebrospinal fluid findings showed glucose below 40 mg/dL in 60% of the patients, a median pleocytosis of 59 white blood cells/mm (range, 0-884), and protein of 156 mg/dL (range, 25-402 mg/dL). The median CD4 count at diagnosis of ICL and at the last available measurement was 82 (range, 7-292) and 132 (range, 13-892) cells/mm, respectively, for an average follow-up of 32 months in 46 patients. Unlike previously normal patients with cryptococcosis, those with ICL had an excess incidence of dermatomal zoster (7 episodes in 46 ICL cases). Pneumocystis pneumonia was rare (1 case), casting doubt on the need for prophylaxis in patients with ICL. A favorable outcome (cured or improved) may be more common in ICL patients than in previously normal patients with cryptococcal meningitis and no predisposing factors. Identification of ICL in patients who were apparently normal before the onset of cryptococcosis appears to be useful because it predicts a favorable outcome. Patients with cryptococcal infection and ICL have an increased likelihood of developing dermatomal zoster. The long-term follow-up of these patients offers some reassurance regarding favorable prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antigens, Fungal / blood
  • Antigens, Fungal / cerebrospinal fluid
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryptococcosis / complications
  • Cryptococcosis / diagnosis*
  • Cryptococcosis / drug therapy
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / immunology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucose / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Herpes Zoster / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Distribution
  • T-Lymphocytopenia, Idiopathic CD4-Positive / complications
  • T-Lymphocytopenia, Idiopathic CD4-Positive / diagnosis*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins
  • Glucose