Changes in pathological findings at autopsy in AIDS cases for the last 15 years

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Abstract

Objective

To analyze changes in frequency of systemic AIDS pathology over time and its relationship to central nervous system pathology.

Design and methods

A total of 390 AIDS autopsy cases obtained at University of California at San Diego Medical Center from 1982 to 1998 were reviewed retrospectively and linear regression analysis was used to evaluate significance of changes over time.

Results

Overall, the frequency of cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Mycobacterium avium complex decreased, whereas bacterial infections increased and the frequency of fungal infection remained unchanged over time. The frequency of non-Hogdkin's lymphoma showed an upward trend over time, while the frequency of Kaposi's sarcoma remained unchanged. Following involvement of the lung (84%), the brain continued to be the second most frequently affected organ (63%). Whereas alterations of the brain by opportunistic infections or non-Hogdkin's lymphoma showed a downward trend, HIV encephalitis continued to be detected in at least 25% of the cases. Cases with advanced HIV-related neuropathology and cases with no HIV involvement of the brain showed significant systemic pathology with opportunistic infections and neoplasms. In contrast, cases with early brain pathology (e.g., lymphocytic meningitis) showed minimal systemic pathology. Overall these trends remained unchanged throughout the total period covered by this study.

Conclusions

This study suggests that despite the beneficial effects of antiretroviral and anti-opportunistic infection therapy, involvement of the brain by HIV continues to be a frequent autopsy finding.

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