Acquired immune deficiency syndrome: postmortem findings

Am J Clin Pathol. 1984 May;81(5):549-57. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/81.5.549.


The autopsies of 13 male homosexuals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reviewed. All patients had laboratory evidence of cellular immune dysfunction. The most common diagnoses made were disseminated cytomegalovirus infection in 12 patients and Kaposi's sarcoma in 10. All patients infected with cytomegalovirus had pulmonary compromise. The adrenal glands and gastrointestinal tract also were involved often by cytomegalovirus. Cytomegalovirus infection of organs uncommonly affected such as heart, meninges, cerebrum, and peripheral nerves was documented in two patients. Skin most frequently was involved by Kaposi's sarcoma, followed by gastrointestinal tract and lymph nodes. Two patients had visceral and/or nodal Kaposi's sarcoma with no skin compromise. Other important diagnoses were Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, cryptosporidiosis, fungal infections, toxoplasmosis, and brain lymphoma. The cause of death was due to one or more infections in most patients. Kaposi's sarcoma did not contribute substantially to the cause of death, except in one patient with massive multifocal and multiorgan involvement.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Apicomplexa
  • Autopsy
  • Biopsy
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / pathology
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / pathology
  • Protozoan Infections / pathology
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology