Cerebellar degeneration associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection

M. Tagliati, D. Simpson, S. Morgello, D. Clifford, R. L. Schwartz, J. R. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Cerebellar disorders associated with HIV infection are typically the result of discrete cerebellar lesions resulting from opportunistic infections such as toxoplasmosis and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy or primary CNS lymphoma. Clinical symptoms and pathologic abnormalities related to the cerebellum may also be observed with HIV dementia. A primary cerebellar degeneration with HIV has not previously been reported. Ten patients were identified over an 8-year period at five medical centers. All patients had clinical, laboratory, and radiologic evaluations, and three had neuropathologic examinations. Patients presented with progressively unsteady gait, slurred speech, and limb clumsiness. Examination revealed gait ataxia, impaired limb coordination, dysarthria, and abnormal eye movements. Cognition, strength, and sensory function remained normal. CD4 lymphocyte counts varied between 10 and 437 cells/mm3. Neuroimaging studies showed prominent cerebellar atrophy. Neuropathology showed focal degeneration of the cerebellar granular cell layer and unusual focal axonal swellings in the brainstem and spinal cord. Cultures, histopathology, and immunochemical studies showed no conclusive evidence of infection. We report a syndrome of unexplained degeneration of the cerebellum occurring in association with HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


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