Background: The clinical and laboratory characteristics of AIDS-associated Talaromyces marneffei infection, a rare but a fatal mycosis disease of the central nervous system, remain unclear.
Case presentation: Herein, we conducted a retrospective study of ten AIDS patients with cerebrospinal fluid culture-confirmed central nervous system infection caused by Talaromyces marneffei. All 10 patients were promptly treated with antifungal treatment for a prolonged duration and early antiviral therapy (ART). Among them, seven patients were farmers. Nine patients were discharged after full recovery, while one patient died during hospitalization, resulting in a mortality rate of 10%. All patients initially presented symptoms and signs of an increase in intracranial pressure, mainly manifesting as headache, dizziness, vomiting, fever, decreased muscle strength, diplopia or even altered consciousness with seizures in severe patients. Nine patients (90%) showed lateral ventricle dilatation or intracranial infectious lesions on brain CT. Cerebrospinal fluid findings included elevated intracranial pressure, increased leukocyte count, low glucose, low chloride and high cerebrospinal fluid protein. The median CD4+ T count of patients was 104 cells/μL (IQR, 36-224 cells/μL) at the onset of the disease. The CD4+ T cell counts of three patients who eventually died were significantly lower (W = 6.00, p = 0.020) than those of the patients who survived.
Conclusions: The common clinical symptoms of T. marneffei central nervous system infection are associated with high intracranial pressure and intracranial infectious lesions. Earlier recognition and diagnosis and a prolonged course of amphotericin B treatment followed by itraconazole combined with early ART might reduce the mortality rate.
Keywords: AIDS; Antifungal therapy; CSF; Central nervous system infection; T. marneffei.