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Pathol Res Pract. 1995 Jun;191(5):427-43.

The neuropathology and epidemiology of AIDS. A Berlin experience. A review of 200 cases.

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  • 1Freie Universität Berlin, Universitätsklinikum Benjamin Franklin, Germany.


The brains of 200 patients who died with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) from Berlin were examined retrospectively. This study was specifically intended to evaluate and document the prevalence of neuropathologic abnormalities, establishing the frequency of the various types of structural lesions, their combinations, their relative incidence, and the risk factors involved in different age groups. The data were compared and contrasted with the findings reported from other parts of the world and other German cities. It was found that the mean age of this group of patients was 41.4 years old, 75% were homosexual/bisexuals (H/B) and 18.5% were drug abusers (DA). Only 5.5% were women. Brain parenchymal changes, called in this report, HIV-related encephalopathy (HIVRE), characterized by vacuolization or spongy changes and astrocytosis in the subcortical white matter, and occasionally in gray matter, were found in 67 patients (33.5%). Drug abusers had a higher incidence of HIVRE (59.5%) compared with homosexual/bisexuals (28%). This is statistically significant (p < 0.0005). CMV encephalitis was found in 26 patients (13%) (8% of the drug abusers in contrast to 13% in the homosexual/bisexuals group). Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) was seen in 28 patients (14%) regardless of the risk factor involved. 20 (13%) of the 150 H/B and 3 (8%) of the 37 DA had CMV encephalitis. Of the 150 H/B, 24 (16%) had PCNSL compared with only 4 of 37 (11%) of the DA. A significant incidence of opportunistic infections, both protozoal and viral was found in all groups. Cerebral toxoplasmosis occurred in 68 patients (34%). Microglial (phagocytic) nodules, probably related to CMV or cerebral Toxoplasmosis, were observed in 40 cases (20%). Diffuse microglial proliferation was noted in 104 patients (52%). Cerebral cryptococcosis was found in three patients. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy was seen in 16 patients (8%). Various combinations of CNS pathological processes were found in 44 of the patients (22%). These include concomitant infections with Toxoplasma gondii and HIVRE in 13 patients; Toxoplasmosis and PCNSL in 8 patients; Toxoplasmosis with CMV and HIVRE in 4 patients; Toxoplasmosis with CMV in 2 patients; Toxoplasmosis with PCNSL and CMV in 2 patients; Toxoplasmosis with PCNSL and HIVRE in 2 patients and Toxoplasmosis with PML and HIVRE in 2 patients; Cerebral CMV with PCNSL and HIVRE in 4 patients; Cerebral CMV with HIVRE in 2 patients; PML with PCNSL in one patient; PML with HIVRE in 2 patients; and PML with PCNSL and HIVRE in one patient. Cerebrovascular lesions were found in 34 patients (17%).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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