Other central nervous system infections: cytomegalovirus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Treponema pallidum

Handb Clin Neurol. 2018:152:151-166. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63849-6.00012-8.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals are particularly susceptible to several central nervous system infections: human cytomegalovirus, which may cause encephalitis, ventriculitis, polyradiculitis, or polyradiculomyelitis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can cause meningitis or space-occupying lesions; and Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum (T. pallidum), which affects the meninges, cerebrospinal fluid, cranial nerves, and vasculature in early neurosyphilis, and additionally the brain and spinal cord parenchyma in late neurosyphilis. Central nervous system cytomegalovirus infection is seen in HIV-infected individuals with very advanced immunosuppression. Its prognosis is poor and optimal therapy has not been determined. Tuberculous meningitis has a high mortality in those also infected with HIV, especially in the developing world, and better therapies are urgently needed. As the rates of syphilis increase in the developed world, neurosyphilis and in particular ocular syphilis are increasingly reported. The likelihood of all three of these central nervous system infections is decreased in individuals who receive potent antiretroviral therapy.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum; central nervous system; encephalitis; human cytomegalovirus; meningitis; neurosyphilis; ocular syphilis; polyradiculitis; polyradiculomyelitis; ventriculitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology
  • Central Nervous System Infections / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Infections / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Infections / therapy
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / therapy
  • Cytomegalovirus* / isolation & purification
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / isolation & purification
  • Neurosyphilis / diagnosis
  • Neurosyphilis / epidemiology*
  • Neurosyphilis / therapy
  • Treponema pallidum* / isolation & purification
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / therapy