HIV-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome

Thomas H Brannagan, Yili Zhou
Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2003 April 15, 208 (1-2): 39-42
Human immunodeficiency virus-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome (HIV-GBS) has been reported since 1985. Based on previous reports, this neuropathy typically occurs early in HIV infection, even at seroconversion, prior to developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Patients with GBS and CD4 counts of <50 have been proposed to have cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and empiric gancyclovir is recommended. We reviewed medical records of 10 patients with HIV-GBS at five hospitals from 1986 to 1999. The mean CD4 count was 367/mm(3) (range 55-800). GBS was the first symptom of HIV infection in three patients. Four patients had AIDS with CD4 counts ranging from 55 to 190. CSF white blood cell (WBC) was 0 wbc/mm(3) in four patients, 2-10 wbc/mm(3) in three and 11-17 wbc/mm(3) in two. Three had recurrent weakness from 9 weeks to 4 years after the onset of symptoms, which persisted. HIV-GBS occurs in early and late stages of HIV infection, and may follow the onset of AIDS. No patients were seen with severe immunosuppression (CD4<50). A mild cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis in GBS suggests HIV infection, but is frequently absent. Compared to HIV-negative people, HIV-GBS may be associated with more frequent recurrent episodes or the development of CIDP.

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