This review provides an overview of Cryptococcus neoformans immunology and focuses on the pathogenesis of Cryptococcus-related paradoxical immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). Cryptococcal IRIS has three phases: (1) before antiretroviral therapy (ART), with a paucity of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inflammation and defects in antigen clearance; (2) during initial ART immune recovery, with pro-inflammatory signaling by antigen-presenting cells without an effector response; and (3) at IRIS, a cytokine storm with a predominant type-1 helper T-cell (Th1) interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) response. Understanding IRIS pathogenesis allows for risk stratification and customization of HIV/AIDS care. In brief, persons at high IRIS risk may benefit from enhancing microbiologic clearance by use of adjunctive agents in combination with amphotericin, prolonging initial induction therapy, and/or increasing the initial consolidation antifungal therapy dose to at least 800 mg of fluconazole daily until the 2-week CSF culture is known to be sterile. Prophylactic anti-inflammatory therapies or undue delay of ART initiation in an attempt to prevent IRIS is unwarranted and may be dangerous.
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Disclosure Conflicts of Interest: D. Wiesner: none; D. Boulware: research support from GlaxoSmithKline’s HIV Collaborative Investigator Research Award and Merck’s Investigator-Initiated Studies Program; both of these firms manufacture HIV antiretroviral medications.
- Anti-inflammatory therapy
- Antifungal therapy
- Antiretroviral therapy
- Cryptococcal meningitis
- Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome
- Risk stratification