HIV/AIDS patients with HIV vasculopathy and VZV vasculitis: a case series

Clin Neuroradiol. 2011 Sep;21(3):145-51. doi: 10.1007/s00062-011-0087-0. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Purpose: Stroke is a rising cause of mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) populations. The etiology of stroke remains at the core of the decision-making process to treat and prevent recurrent events. In this population HIV vasculopathy (HIV-V) and varicella zoster virus (VZV) vasculitis are elusive causes of stroke. This study investigated radiological markers that could help identify possible etiological causes.

Methods: A series of nine consecutive patients seen at a large metropolitan hospital who presented with AIDS and stroke with the suspicion of either HIV vasculopathy (HIV-V) or VZV vasculitis (VZV-V) were included. A standardized diagnostic approach was used to for HIV-V and VZV-V. Data on frequencies and typical images are reported.

Results: Of the nine patients five had VZV-V and four had HIV-V. Patients with VZV-V were generally younger than those with HIV-V; however, no other significant demographic or cardiovascular differences were found. Of the five patients with VZV-V four had small, deep, subcortical ischemic strokes and only one in this group had a large, cortical, hemispheric stroke but in the HIV-V group three patients had large, cortical hemispheric strokes and only one patient had small, subcortical ischemic strokes.

Conclusions: In this series VZV-V seemed to present more often with deep-seated ischemic infarcts, while HIV-V appeared to be associated with large, hemispheric stroke. It seems plausible that this difference is related to the type of arteries infected by each virus. These findings are preliminary and should be confirmed with better studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Arteritis, Central Nervous System / diagnosis*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnosis*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Encephalitis, Varicella Zoster / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Vasculitis / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult