HIV encephalopathy: incidence, definition and pathogenesis. Results of a Swiss collaborative study

Kleihues, P.; Leib, Stephen L.; Strittmatter, C.; Wiestler, O. D.; Lang, W. (1991). HIV encephalopathy: incidence, definition and pathogenesis. Results of a Swiss collaborative study. Acta pathologica japonica, 41(3), pp. 197-205.

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The incidence of HIV encephalopathies was determined in an ongoing consecutive autopsy study. Among 345 patients who died from AIDS in Switzerland during 1981-1990, 68 (19%) showed morphological evidence of HIV encephalopathy. Two major histopathological manifestations were observed. Progressive diffuse leukoencephalopathy (PDL) was present in 33 cases and is characterized by a diffuse loss of myelin staining in the deep white matter of the cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres, with scattered multinucleated giant cells but little or no inflammatory reaction. Multinucleated giant cell encephalitis (MGCE) was diagnosed in 32 cases; it's hallmarks are accumulations of multinucleated giant cells with prominent inflammatory reaction and focal necroses. In 3 patients both types of lesions overlapped. Brain tissue from 27 patients was analyzed for the presence of HIV gag sequences using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with primers encoding a 109 base pair segment of the viral gene. Amplification succeeded in all patients with clinical and histopathological evidence for HIV encephalopathy but was absent in AIDS patients with opportunistic bacterial, parasitic and/or viral infections. Potential mechanisms by which HIV exerts it's adverse effects on the human CNS are discussed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases

UniBE Contributor:

Leib, Stephen


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health






Stephen Leib

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2014 11:03

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:34

PubMed ID:



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