HIV associated Lymphocytic Interstitial Pneumonia: a clinical, histological and radiographic study from an HIV endemic resource-poor setting

Background: There is a paucity of clinical and histopathological data about HIV-associated lymphocytic interstitial pneumonitis (LIP) in adults from HIV endemic settings. The role of Ebstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the pathogenesis remains unclear. Methods: We reviewed the clinical, radiographic and histopathological features of suspected adult LIP cases at the Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town South Africa, over a 6 year period. Archived tissue sections were stained for CD3, CD4, CD8, CD20 and LMP-1 antigen (an EBV marker). Results: 42 cases of suspected LIP(100% HIV-infected) were identified. 75% of patients were empirically treated for TB prior to being referred to the chest service for further investigation. Tissue samples were obtained using trans-bronchial biopsy. 13/42 were classified as definite LIP (lymphocytic infiltrate with no alternative diagnosis), 19/42 probable LIP (lymphocytic infiltrate but evidence of anthracosis or fibrosis) and 10 as non-LIP (alternative histological diagnosis). Those with definite LIP were predominantly young females (85%) with a median CD4 count of 194 (IQR 119–359). Clinical or radiological features had poor predictive value for LIP. Histologically, the lymphocytic infiltrate comprised mainly B cells and CD8 T cells. The frequency of positive EBV LMP-1 antigen staining was similar in definite and non- LIP patients [(2/13 (15%) vs. 3/10 (30%); p = 0.52]. Conclusions: In a HIV endemic setting adult HIV-associated LIP occurs predominantly in young women. The diagnosis can often be made on transbronchial biopsy and is characterized by a predominant CD8 T cell infiltrate. No association with EBV antigen was found.