From the Journals

Check for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder in suspect HIV patients



HIV-associated neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a recently recognized entity and high index of suspicion is needed to diagnose these patients, according to Thomas Mathew, MD, and his colleagues at St. John’s Medical College Hospital, Bengaluru, India.


“NMOSD can be associated with a wide range of autoimmune diseases but clinicians rarely diagnose NMOSD in cases of HIV infection and HIV-associated NMOSD is rarely mentioned in the conventional classification of NMOSD,” they stated.

Dr. Mathew and his colleagues reported the results of a case study they made of six cases of HIV-NMOSD identified from the literature and 1 HIV-infected patient from a registry for NMOSD that they had established, which had a total of 25 patients with the condition.

There were four men and three women in the study, ranging from 8 years to 49 years of age. The duration of HIV infection in these patients ranged from newly detected to 15 years, according to the report, published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (2019 Jan;27:289-93).

Optic neuritis followed by myelitis was the commonest presentation, occurring in five of the seven patients. Of these, six patients were assayed for anti–aquaporin 4 antibodies, which are considered a serological marker of neuromyelitis optica; three patients were positive and three were negative.

All patients received immunomodulatory treatment. Five of the seven patients had a poor recovery from acute attacks, but no patient had further relapses while on immunomodulatory treatment and antiretroviral therapy.

Dr. Mathew and his colleagues suggested that all patients with HIV infection presenting with optic neuritis or/and myelitis, should have their anti–aquaporin 4 antibody status checked and in all patients of NMOSD, HIV infection should be ruled out.

“Prognosis of these patients is variable; residual neurological deficits were common but treatment prevented further attacks. Increased awareness of this association will lead to earlier diagnosis, early treatment and prevention of disability,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Mathew T et al. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2019 Jan;27:289-93.

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