Four cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in iatrogenic immunocompromised patients

Giuseppe Salemi, Alessia Bianchi, Sabrina Realmuto, Giuseppe La Tona, Paolo Ragonese, Sabrina Realmuto, Erika Portera, Giulia Vazzoler

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Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) caused by John Cunningham Virus (JCV). We report four PML cases in immunocompromised patients, respectively treated with (1) Natalizumab, (2) Rituximab, (3) autologous stem-cell transplantation, and (4) Tacrolimus. All patients underwent neurological examination, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), JCV-DNA research on biological samples, and lymphocytes subpopulation study. All cases presented with motor, behavioural, and cognitive disorders. Visual, sensitive, and cerebellar deficits developed in three cases. MRI revealed widespread progressive demyelinating areas with active borders; three patients presented contrast enhancement. One patient developed inflammatory reconstitution syndrome (IRIS). At MRS, all cases presented decreased N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) and three cases showed increased choline (Cho). In one patient, plasma and urine tested positive for JCV-DNA, while cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis confirmed JCV in two patients. The fourth patient had a low JCV-DNA blood titer and brain biopsy showed subacute necrosis. Two patients had abnormal lymphocyte subpopulations. Three patients underwent therapy with Mirtazapine, one of whom received Mefloquine in add-on. No clinical response was registered. Clinical onset, MRI and MRS were highly suggestive of PML in all patients, despite three cases presented contrast enhancement. In three cases JCV-DNA detection in biological samples confirmed the diagnosis. The fourth patient fulfilled diagnosis of “presumptive PML”. Our data confirm the importance to complete the diagnostic workup despite the presence of findings not completely consistent with classical PML. We hypothesize that atypical characteristics could due to the clinical conditions leading to PML.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100243-
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology

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