The most common type of peripheral neuropathy associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, predominantly sensory neuropathy, affects 10–30% of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). From 40 individuals with peripheral neuropathy and HIV infection, we have identified 26 patients with this syndrome. All had constitutional symptoms when neuropathic symptoms developed; 20 had AIDS and six had AIDS-related complex. The most common complaint was pain on the soles. Paresthesias were frequent and usually involved the entire foot. Signs of peripheral neuropathy were present in all; the most frequent finding was absent or reduced ankle reflexes. Electrophysiologic studies revealed abnormal sensory and motor conduction, studies suggesting a dying-back axonopathy. Over time, the neuropathy progressed in all except one patient with ARC, who had spontaneous subjective improvement. Tricyclic antidepressants provided partial symptomatic relief. In three patients, the neuropathy did not change during azidothymidine treatment. Predominantly sensory neuropathy in HIV infection appears to be a distal axonal degeneration primarily involving sensory neurons. The mechanism is unknown, but the neuropathy is associated with the late manifestations of HIV infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology