Neurophysiological assessment of peripheral nerve and spinal cord function in asymptomatic HIV-1 infection: results from the UCMSM/Medical Research Council neurology cohort

J Neurol. 1995 Jun;242(6):406-14. doi: 10.1007/BF00868398.


As part of the Medical Research Council prospective study of the neurological complications of HIV infection, neurophysiological tests of spinal cord and peripheral nerve function were recorded in a cohort of homosexual or bisexual men. The studies included motor and sensory nerve conduction studies, vibration perception thresholds, somatosensory evoked potentials and motor evoked potentials elicited by magnetic stimulation. The results were compared with markers of immune function. The findings from 114 volunteers were analysed in a cross-sectional study. Fifty-nine were HIV-seropositive but asymptomatic, 26 had progressed to the symptomatic stages of HIV disease and 29 were persistently HIV-seronegative. There was some evidence of a mild sensory axonopathy in the symptomatic HIV-seropositive group. No differences were detected between the asymptomatic HIV-seropositive group and the HIV-seronegative comparison group. There were no consistently significant correlations between the neurophysiological measurements and CD4 counts and beta 2-microglobulin levels. On repeated testing, there was no evidence of a trend towards deterioration over a mean period of approximately 3 years in 36 HIV-seropositive subjects who remained asymptomatic compared with 22 HIV-seronegatives. These findings have failed to demonstrate neurophysiological evidence of spinal cord or peripheral nerve dysfunction in the asymptomatic stages of HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • HIV Seronegativity / physiology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / physiopathology*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neural Conduction
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology*