Histoplasmosis in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Hematologic and bone marrow manifestations

Am J Clin Pathol. 1990 Mar;93(3):367-72. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/93.3.367.


In areas where Histoplasma capsulatum infections are endemic in the United States, there is an increasing frequency of progressive disseminated histoplasmosis (PDH) as an opportunistic infection in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The bone marrow and peripheral blood (PB) specimens in 13 patients with AIDS and PDH were reviewed. Anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia were found in 12, 10, and 7 patients, respectively. Circulating organisms were detected in the blood smears or buffy coat preparations from five patients and were associated with PB nRBCs and severe absolute monocytopenia. Morphologically, the marrow specimens showed one of four patterns: (1) no morphologic evidence of infection (two patients, one with a positive marrow culture); (2) discrete granulomas (two patients, both with positive marrow cultures); (3) lymphohistiocytic aggregates (six patients, four with positive marrow cultures); and (4) diffuse macrophage infiltrates (three patients, all with positive marrow cultures). Morphologic examination of the bone marrow combined with cultures is useful in diagnosing disseminated histoplasmosis in patients with AIDS. However, the morphologic findings in the bone marrow may be different in patients with AIDS compared with non-AIDS patients, and seemingly nondiagnostic morphologic features must be approached with a high degree of suspicion in diagnosing infections with H. capsulatum in this population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / blood
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Bone Marrow Examination
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • Histoplasma / isolation & purification
  • Histoplasmosis / blood
  • Histoplasmosis / complications
  • Histoplasmosis / immunology
  • Histoplasmosis / pathology*
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • CD4 Antigens