Diagnostic value for culture of cerebrospinal fluid from HIV-1-infected individuals for opportunistic viruses: a prospective study

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To investigate the diagnostic value of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture for opportunistic viruses from HIV-1-infected individuals.


A 4-year prospective study was conducted using a participant population consisting of 186 HIV-1-infected individuals without neurologic disease, 73 HIV-1-infected individuals with encephalopathy, myelopathy, and/or peripheral neuropathy, and 10 controls. CSF samples recovered at 1-year intervals were subjected to virus culture using techniques commonly used in the clinical laboratory setting.


CSF samples obtained from only 15 of the 269 (5.6%) participants yielded an opportunistic virus upon culture. Cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, adenovirus, and presumptive enteroviruses were identified. No consistent correlation was observed between the detection of an opportunistic virus within a CSF sample and the presence or future development of neurologic disease. However, a significant correlation was observed between culture of virus from CSF and the future development of abnormal CD4+ (X2, P= 0.0286) and CD8+ (X2, P= 0.0018) lymphocyte counts in HIV-1-infected participants without neurologic disease.


These results show that culture of CSF to screen for opportunistic viruses is neither diagnostic nor predictive of neurologic disease in HIV-1-infected individuals. Nevertheless, the presence of virus within CSF may be an indicator of HIV-1-mediated immune dysfunction and a predictor for future development of abnormal CD4+ and/or CD8+ lymphocyte counts.

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