Peripheral neuropathy in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with the diffuse infiltrative lymphocytosis syndrome

Ann Neurol. 1997 Apr;41(4):438-45. doi: 10.1002/ana.410410406.


A subset of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients develop persistent CD8 hyperlymphocytosis and a Sjogren's syndrome-like syndrome associated with multivisceral CD8 T-cell infiltration, known as the diffuse infiltrative lymphocytosis syndrome (DILS). Patients with DILS tend to have higher CD4 cell counts, fewer opportunistic infections, and longer survival times than other HIV-infected patients. Peripheral nerve involvement in DILS has been poorly documented. We studied 12 HIV-infected patients with CD8 hyperlymphocytosis, DILS, and clinical signs of peripheral neuropathy. Two of 4 patients who were HLA typed were HLA-DR5 and 1 was HLA-DR6. All patients had the sicca syndrome and multivisceral involvement. The neuropathy was acute or subacute, always painful, and symmetrical in 8 cases. Electrophysiology was consistent with axonal neuropathy in 10 of 12 patients. Nerve biopsy showed marked angiocentric CD8 infiltrates without mural necrosis (12 of 12), and abundant expression of HIV p24 protein in macrophages (12 of 12). The HIV genome was detected by polymerase chain reaction in nerve homogenates. Zidovudine therapy was associated with improvement in 6 of 6 patients and steroid therapy was beneficial in 4 of 5 patients. No T-cell lymphoma was observed during follow-up, but 2 patients developed a primary B-cell lymphoma. We conclude that DILS neuropathy represents HIV-associated neuropathy, characterized by marked CD8 infiltration and abundant HIV in nerve, that improves with zidovudine or steroid therapy, and probably reflects a systemic host-determined and antigen-driven response to HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytosis / complications*
  • Macrophages / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nerves / ultrastructure
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies