Cryptococcal meningitis with atypical paradoxical inflammatory reactions after antifungal treatment in acquired immune deficiency syndrome: A case report

Published:November 20, 2022DOI:


      Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is a life-threatening disease that primarily affects patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Antifungal therapy with antiretroviral treatment (ART) usually leads to the clinical remission of CM; however, in some cases, these treatments exacerbate intracranial inflammation because of paradoxical inflammatory reaction or immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Here we report two CM cases that presented atypical clinical courses attributed to paradoxical inflammatory reactions.
      The first case was a 43-year-old man with headache and vertigo diagnosed with CM and HIV. The patient's CM not only was refractory to the antifungal combination therapy of liposomal amphotericin B (L-AMB) and fluconazole (FLCZ) but suddenly worsened because of a paradoxical inflammatory reaction after 18 days of treatment. He passed away from brain herniation on day 23. The second case was a 43-year-old man diagnosed with CM and HIV. After receiving antifungal therapy and ART, the patient's status was stable for more than 3 years with undetectable HIV-RNA. He suddenly presented with brain inflammation and was diagnosed with IRIS due to CM (CM-IRIS). His brain lesions were migratory and refractory to various antifungal therapies such as L-AMB, FLCZ, flucytosine, and intrathecal amphotericin B. Although the cryptococcal antigen in the patient's cerebrospinal fluid gradually diminished after continuous antifungal therapies, his cognitive function declined, and right hemiparesis persisted.
      These two cases of CM presented atypical clinical courses, presumably because of paradoxical inflammatory reactions. It should be noted that the onset of CM-IRIS may not necessarily depend on the timing of ART initiation.


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