Intractable pruritus in HIV infection: Immunologic characterization

F. Milazzo, S. Piconi, C. Magni, M. Coen, A. Capetti, D. Trabattoni, M. L. Fusi, Mario Clerici, C. Parravicini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Severe, intractable pruritus, often associated with erythematopapular skin lesions and hypereosinophilia, is a condition observed in some nonatopic, HIV-infected patients. We performed immunovirologic analyses of this condition. Methods: Immunologic (mitogen-stimulated production of cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-α], and soluble CD23; serum levels of soluble CD23, ICAM-1, TNF-α, IgG, IgE, and IgA) and virologic (HIV viral load) parameters were analyzed in six patients with therapy-resistant pruritus. Hypereosinophilia was present in all these patients. Results were compared to those of seven HIV-seropositive individuals similar to the first one in terms of CD4 counts and clinical staging, but without pruritus. Results: Hypereosinophilia; hyper-IgE and hyper-IgA; augmented interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and sCD23; and reduced interferongamma production by mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were detected when patients with pruritus were compared to HIV controls. HIV viral load was also augmented in patients in whom pruritus was present. Conclusions: The results suggest that therapy-resistant, intractable pruritus accompanied by hypereosinophilia may be used to define a subset of HIV-seropositive individuals showing prototypic hyperactivation of humoral immunity, and in whom augmented HIV viral load is present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-272
Number of pages7
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Cytokines
  • Dermatology
  • HIV
  • IgE
  • Immunology
  • Pruritus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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