Thursday, November 5, 2020

Recovery of HIV encephalopathy in perinatally infected children on antiretroviral therapy

Innes S, Laughton B, van Toorn R, Otwombe K, Liberty A, Dobbels E, Violari A, Kruger M, Cotton MF. Recovery of HIV encephalopathy in perinatally infected children on antiretroviral therapy. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2020 Nov;62(11):1309-1316. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.14639. Epub 2020 Aug 10. PMID: 32779195.


Aim: To describe the trajectory of clinical signs in children who developed human immunodeficiency virus encephalopathy (HIVE) after starting early antiretroviral therapy (ART). 

Method: This was a retrospective case-cohort description of HIVE among Cape Town participants from the Children with HIV Early AntiRetroviral treatment (CHER) trial. Criteria for HIVE diagnosis were at least two of: (1) acquired central motor deficit, (2) impaired brain growth, and (3) failure to attain or loss of developmental milestones in the absence of an alternative aetiology. 

Results: Of 133 surviving participants who initiated ART at a median age of 9 weeks and who were followed until a median age of 6 years, 20 (12%) developed HIVE at a median age 31 months (interquartile range 19-37). In these, the first neurological deterioration was noticed at a median age of 19 months, when 16 were on ART and nine had undetectable HIV viral load for a median of 12 months. Signs of upper motor neurons were present in 18, of whom 12 resolved and four had persistent spastic diplegia; 19 had motor delay, of whom 14 resolved; 12 had language delay, of whom 11 resolved; and 16 had impaired brain growth, of whom only five recovered. For the 16 participants already on ART at HIVE diagnosis, regimens were not altered in response to diagnosis. 

Interpretation: HIVE may occur despite early ART initiation and virological suppression and then resolve on unchanged ART, most likely as intrathecal inflammation subsides. 

What this paper adds: Despite suppressive antiretroviral therapy, children can develop human immunodeficiency virus encephalopathy, The most common manifestations are motor deficits and impaired brain growth. Most experience improvement, with many resolving without additional intervention.

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