Setting: Clinical features of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated tuberculosis depend upon the patients' residual immunity. An immune-dependent presentation has also been described at the histopathological level in many extra-pulmonary sites, but no descriptions have so far been made on the histopathology of HIV-associated pulmonary tuberculosis.
Objective: To compare the histopathological features of pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-infected subjects and seronegative patients.
Design: We carried out a retrospective comparative study on 16 HIV-infected subjects and 16 seronegative patients with culture-proven pulmonary tuberculosis who underwent transbronchial biopsy. We evaluated the bacillary burden and the parenchymal inflammatory reaction by means of a four-graded scoring system giving an approximate quantitative measure of the two parameters.
Results: HIV-associated pulmonary tuberculosis was found to differ significantly from disease forms seen in seronegative patients, with a significant tendency to develop highly bacillary and poorly reactive histopathological pictures along with the downgrading evolution of immune function.
Conclusion: Pathologic features of pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-infected subjects differ from those encountered in seronegative patients depending upon the individual immunity of the former. HIV-associated progressive depletion of CD4+ lymphocytes leads to substantial changes in pulmonary reactivity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis; multibacillary pictures in a background of loose inflammatory reactions are quite common findings at the extreme phase of HIV-related immune deterioration.