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J Infect Dis. 1994 Mar;169(3):623-7.

Detection of cytomegalovirus in cerebrospinal fluid autopsy specimens from AIDS patients.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common opportunistic pathogen infecting AIDS patients. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen capture ELISA were used to detect CMV in 40 cerebrospinal fluid autopsy specimens from patients with AIDS. CMV DNA was detected by PCR in 70% of samples. Of the 21 samples from patients with systemic CMV infection, 57% had CMV encephalitis, while 81% had virus in cerebrospinal fluid detectable by PCR. Of the 24 samples from patients with no histologic evidence of CMV encephalitis, 58% had CMV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid detected by PCR. These results suggest that PCR of cerebrospinal fluid sensitively detects systemic CMV infection but is not specific for brain infection in autopsy specimens of AIDS patients.

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