CNS demyelinating disorder with mixed features of neuromyelitis optica and multiple sclerosis in HIV-1 infection. Case report and literature review

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An African-American male presented with bilateral visual impairment, gait difficulties, and bladder and bowel incontinence raising concerns for multiple sclerosis (MS) or neuromyelitis optica (NMO). He was identified to be HIV-1 infected with high viral load and low CD4+ counts. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain was abnormal, but atypical for MS. MRI of the cervical and thoracic spinal cord showed multiple areas of myelitis with a longitudinally extensive thoracic transverse myelitis that showed enhancement with gadolinium suggestive of NMO. Cerebrospinal fluid showed oligoclonal IgG bands but did not show reactivity to aquaporin 4. Patient underwent treatment for the acute exacerbation with intravenous corticosteroids and treatment of the HIV infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). A year later, his viral load was <20 copies/ml and CD4+ counts were normal. Vision did not significantly improve, but his ambulation improved from a near total non-ambulatory state to ambulating without aids and resolution of the bladder and bowel incontinence. A demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) like MS or NMO has been previously reported in the context of HIV infection. The remarkable improvement of symptoms has also been previously reported with HAART, and these observations have led to clinical trials of MS with HAART therapy in the absence of HIV infection. We reviewed the few cases of CNS demyelinating disorders with HIV infection reported in the literature and speculate on the mechanisms of pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-537
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 21 2014



  • CNS demyelinating disorders
  • HIV
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • MS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuromyelitis optica
  • NMO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology

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