Clinical prediction and diagnosis of neurosyphilis in HIV-infected patients with early Syphilis.
The diagnosis of neurosyphilis (NS) is a challenge, especially in HIV-infected patients, and the criteria for deciding when to perform a lumbar puncture (LP) in HIV-infected patients with syphilis are controversial. We retrospectively reviewed demographic, clinical, and laboratory data from 122 cases of HIV-infected patients with documented early syphilis who underwent an LP to rule out NS, and we evaluated 3 laboratory-developed validated real-time PCR assays, the Treponema pallidum particle agglutination (TPPA) assay, the fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) assay, and the line immunoassay INNO-LIA Syphilis, for the diagnosis of NS from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples of these patients. NS was defined by a reactive CSF-VDRL test result and/or a CSF white blood cell (WBC) count of >20 cells/?l. Thirty of the 122 patients (24.6%) had early NS. Headache, visual symptoms, a CD4 cell count of <500 cells/?l, and viremia, as defined by an HIV-1 RNA count of ?50 copies/ml, were associated with NS in multivariate analysis (P = <0.001 for each factor). Blood serum rapid plasma reagin (RPR) titers were not associated with early NS (P = 0.575). For the diagnosis of NS, the PCR, FTA-ABS, TPPA, and INNO-LIA assays had sensitivities of 58%, 100%, 68%, and 100%, specificities of 67%, 12%, 49%, and 13%, and negative predictive values of 85%, 100%, 84%, and 100%, respectively. Visual disturbances, headache, uncontrolled HIV-1 viremia, and a CD4 cell count of <500 cells/?l were predictors of NS in HIV-infected patients with early syphilis, while blood serum RPR titers were not; therefore, RPR titers should not be used as the sole criterion for deciding whether to perform an LP in early syphilis. When applied to CSF samples, the INNO-LIA Syphilis assay easily helped rule out NS.