Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRIS): What pathologists should know

Ann Marie Nelson, Yukari C Manabe, Sebastian B. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Antiretroviral therapy has significantly improved the quality and length of life for those patients able to access effective and sustained treatment. The resulting restoration of the immune response is associated with a change in the clinical presentation of opportunistic infections, and the histologic reaction to pathogens. A complex combination of alterations in host response across the stages of HIV infection has been documented over the past 3 decades. The defects are seen in both acute and chronic phases of inflammation and involve innate and adaptive immunity. In advanced stages of HIV infection, the marked disruption of lymphoid tissue and loss of follicular dendritic cells limits the host's ability to process antigen and mount specific responses to pathogens. There are qualitative and quantitative defects in CD4 T cells due to HIV infection. The resulting indirect effects include loss of cytokine production, dysregulation of B-cell function, loss of cellular mediated immunity and “holes” in the immunologic repertoire that may not be restored with the use of antiretroviral therapy. Immune reconstitution allows the host to respond to and control infection, but a significant number of patients will have atypical inflammatory syndromes during the recovery period. We briefly discuss the impact of HIV infection on the immune system and give an overview of the spectrum of conditions attributed to the Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory syndrome (IRIS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-351
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Diagnostic Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • AIDS
  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV
  • Immune reconstitution
  • Immune restoration
  • IRIS
  • Opportunistic infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Medicine


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