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Clinical and Metagenomic Characterization of Neurological Infections of People With Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Peruvian Amazon

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2023 Oct 27;10(11):ofad515. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofad515. eCollection 2023 Nov.


BACKGROUND: Neurological opportunistic infections cause significant morbidity and mortality in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) but are difficult to diagnose.

METHODS: One hundred forty people with HIV with acute neurological symptoms from Iquitos, Peru, were evaluated for cerebral toxoplasmosis with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and for cryptococcal meningitis with cryptococcal antigen test (CrAg) in serum or CSF. Differences between groups were assessed with standard statistical methods. A subset of samples was evaluated by metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) of CSF to compare standard diagnostics and identify additional diagnoses.

RESULTS: Twenty-seven participants were diagnosed with cerebral toxoplasmosis by qPCR and 13 with cryptococcal meningitis by CrAg. Compared to participants without cerebral toxoplasmosis, abnormal Glasgow Coma Scale score (P = .05), unilateral focal motor signs (P = .01), positive Babinski reflex (P = .01), and multiple lesions on head computed tomography (CT) (P = .002) were associated with cerebral toxoplasmosis. Photophobia (P = .03) and absence of lesions on head CT (P = .02) were associated with cryptococcal meningitis. mNGS of 42 samples identified 8 cases of cerebral toxoplasmosis, 7 cases of cryptococcal meningitis, 5 possible cases of tuberculous meningitis, and incidental detections of hepatitis B virus (n = 1) and pegivirus (n = 1). mNGS had a positive percentage agreement of 71% and a negative percentage agreement of 91% with qPCR for T gondii. mNGS had a sensitivity of 78% and specificity of 100% for Cryptococcus diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS: An infection was diagnosed by any method in only 34% of participants, demonstrating the challenges of diagnosing neurological opportunistic infections in this population and highlighting the need for broader, more sensitive diagnostic tests for central nervous system infections.

PMID:37965640 | PMC:PMC10642733 | DOI:10.1093/ofid/ofad515

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