A comparision of brain biopsy and CSF-PCR in the diagnosis of CNS lesions in AIDS patients

Antonella D'Arminio Monforte, Paola Cinque, Luca Vago, Aleandro Rocca, Antonella Castagna, Cristina Gervasoni, Maria Rosa Terreni, Roberto Novati, Andrea Gori, Adriano Lazzarin, Mauro Moroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Twenty patients with AIDS who had intracranial lesions underwent both brain biopsy and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination to compare histological diagnosis with the polymerase chain reaction (CSF-PCR) for the identification of infectious agents. CSF-PCR was performed for herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), JC virus (JCV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Toxoplasma gondii and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A definitive diagnosis was obtained by brain biopsy in 14 patients (2 with astrocytoma, 12 with brain infection). CSF-PCR was positive for EBV DNA in 3 of 3 cases of primary cerebral lymphoma, positive for JCV DNA in 6 of 7 biopsy-proven (and one autopsy-proven) cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). CSF-PCR was positive for CMV DNA in one biopsy-proven and one autopsy-proven case of CMV encephalitis (the former also had PML) and positive for M. tuberculosis DNA in one case of tuberculous encephalitis. None of the five toxoplasmic encephalitis cases (one definite, four presumptive) were T. gondii DNA positive. There was close correlation between histology and CSF-PCR for CMV encephalitis, PML and PCL. Antitoxoplasma therapy affected the sensitivity of both histological and CSF-PCR methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • AIDS
  • Brain biopsy
  • Cerebral spinal fluid
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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