Rheumatology International

, Volume 36, Issue 11, pp 1481–1491 | Cite as

Kaleidoscope of autoimmune diseases in HIV infection

Pathology Review


Within the last 30 years, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has changed its status from inevitably fatal to chronic disorder with limited impact on life span. However, this breakthrough was mainly the effect of introduction of the aggressive antiviral treatment, which has led to the clinically significant increase in CD4+ cell count, resulting in fewer cases of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and improved management of opportunistic infections occurring in the course of the disease. The occurrence of a particular autoimmune disease depends on degree of immunosuppression of the HIV-positive patient. In 2002, four stages of autoimmunity were proposed in patients infected by HIV, based on the absolute CD4+ cell count, feature of AIDS as well as on the presence of autoimmune diseases. Spectrum of autoimmune diseases associated with HIV infection seems to be unexpectedly wide, involving several organs, such as lungs (sarcoidosis), thyroid gland (Graves’ disease), liver (autoimmune hepatitis), connective tissue (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, polyarteritis nodosa and other types of vasculitis, antiphospholipid syndrome) or hematopoietic system (autoimmune cytopenias). This paper contains the state of art on possible coincidences between HIV infection and a differential types of autoimmune diseases, including the potential mechanisms of this phenomenon. As the clinical manifestations of autoimmunization often mimic those inscribed in the course of HIV infection, health care providers should be aware of this rare but potentially deadly association and actively seek for its symptoms in their patients.


HIV infection AIDS Autoimmune diseases Immune deficiency CD4+ cells Immunocompetence 



This study was funded by the Grant no. 503/8-000-01/503-81-002 from Medical University of Lodz, Poland.

Authors contribution

JR contributed substantially to the design, performance and reporting of the work. ES—contributed to the study for important intellectual content, was involved in the drafting of the manuscript and article’s revising.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatric RheumatologyMedical University of LodzLodzPoland

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