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Neurology. 2004 Apr 27;62(8):1378-83.

Symptomatic distal sensory polyneuropathy in HIV after age 50.

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Office of Neurology and Aging Research, Hawaii AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96816, USA. mwatters@hawaii.eduimposedneuropathiccomorbidities



To determine if aging changes the frequency, severity, or manifestations of symptomatic distal sensory polyneuropathy (SxDSPN) in patients with HIV-1.


Prospective observations of 70 older (age < or = 50) and 56 younger (age 20 to 40) patients with HIV, and a control group of 48 older non-HIV patients, were conducted utilizing neurologic examination, neuropsychological testing, lumbar puncture, laboratory, and medical history.


The frequency of SxDSPN among older HIV patients was 50.4%, compared to 19.6% among younger HIV patients (p < 0.001). SxDSPN among control patients occurred in 4.2%, similar to the general population. Older compared to younger HIV patients demonstrated more severe symptoms (p = 0.02) and greater deficits for vibration (p < 0.01). Increasing numbers of neuropathic comorbidities among older compared to younger HIV patients were associated with increasing severity of deficits to pinprick (p = 0.003). Dementia and SxDSPN coexisted in 36% of the older HIV patients and in none of the younger HIV patients (p = 0.021). Older HIV patients with nadir CD4 < or =200 cells/mL were 4.23 times as likely to have SxDSPN than older patients with nadir CD4 >200 cells/mL (p = 0.007). Vibratory deficits excessive to pinprick deficits predicted SxDSPN among older (OR 2.83) but not younger seropositive patients (p = 0.036).


Age > or = 50 increases the frequency of SxDSPN, and is associated with both vibratory loss as the predominant sensory deficit and increased severity of pinprick loss among symptomatic patients with neuropathic comorbidities. SxDSPN is associated with both dementia and low nadir CD4 in HIV-positive patients aged 50 and greater.

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