There is no consensus regarding the specific management of HIV-associated nephrotic syndrome. We report a child whose first manifestation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection was nephropathy and wasting syndrome associated with profound immunodeficiency. The patient had a dramatic clinical and immunologic response to triple antiretroviral therapy delivered through a gastrostomy tube, with complete resolution of nephrotic syndrome.

A 5½-year-old African-American girl presented with a 2-week history of cough, chest pain, vomiting, loose stools, abdominal distention, anorexia, and fever. In addition, she had recurrent oral thrush. Her weight and height were below the 5th percentile. She was chronically ill, appearing with oropharyngeal thrush and pitting edema in lower extremities. She had scattered rhonchi and decreased breath sounds on both lung bases. Her abdomen was distended and diffusely tender. A chest radiograph showed consolidation of the right upper and left lower lobes with bilateral pleural effusion. Admission laboratories were consistent with nephrotic syndrome.Streptococcus pneumoniae grew from the blood culture and the child responded well to treatment with intravenous ceftriaxone. She was found to be HIV-infected, her CD4+ cell count was 3 cells/μL and her plasma HIV-1 RNA was >750 000 copies/mL. A percutaneous gastrostomy tube was placed for supplemental nutrition. She was treated with stavudine, lamivudine, and nelfinavir via gastrostomy tube with good clinical response.

Twenty-one months after instituting antiretroviral therapy, her weight and height had increased to the 50th and 10th percentile respectively, and she had complete resolution of her nephrotic syndrome. Her CD4+ cell count increased to 1116 cells/μL and her viral load has remained undetectable.

HIV-1 associated nephrotic syndrome has been described in children with profound immunodeficiency. The course of untreated HIV-associated nephrotic syndrome is rapid progression to renal failure in up to 40% of the children. Regardless of the presence of renal insufficiency, if untreated, it is uniformly fatal.

A modest improvement of HIV-1 associated nephrotic syndrome has been observed in patients treated with zidovudine. Steroid and cyclosporine treatment have resulted in improved renal function but long-term use of immunosuppresive therapy has raised concerns about safety. We have described, to our knowledge, the first child with HIV-associated nephrotic syndrome who had a remarkable clinical, immunologic, and virologic response to triple-drug combination therapy given by gastrostomy tube, with complete resolution of proteinuria and normalization of the serum albumin. She also had a striking improvement in weight, height, and quality-of-life. Whether the presence of a gastrostomy tube contributed to the excellent response because of improved compliance is unknown, but warrants systematic evaluation.

You do not currently have access to this content.