Article

Susac's syndrome: 1975-2005 microangiopathy/autoimmune endotheliopathy.

Neurology and Neurosurgery Associates, P.A., 50 2nd Street S.E., Winter Haven, FL 33880 USA.
Journal of the Neurological Sciences (Impact Factor: 2.26). 07/2007; 257(1-2):270-2. DOI: 10.1016/j.jns.2007.01.036
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Susac's syndrome (SS) consists of the clinical triad of encephalopathy, branch retinal artery occlusions (BRAO) and hearing loss. It is due to a microangiopathy affecting the precapillary arterioles of the brain, retina, and inner ear (cochlea and semicircular canals). Women are more commonly affected than men (3:1); the age of onset ranges from 9 to 58 years; but young women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most vulnerable. The encephalopathy is almost always accompanied by headache which may be the presenting feature. Multifocal neurological signs and symptoms, psychiatric disturbances, cognitive changes, memory loss, and confusion may rapidly progress to dementia. The MRI shows a distinctive white matter disturbance that always affects the corpus callosum. The central callosal fibers are particularly vulnerable and central callosal holes develop as the active lesions resolve. Linear defects (spokes) and rather large round lesions (snowballs) sometime dominate the MRI findings, which include cortical, deep gray (70%) and leptomeningeal involvement (33%). Frequently, the lesions enhance and may be evident on diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). The BRAO are best evaluated with fluorescein angiography, which may show the pathognomonic multifocal fluorescence. Gass plaques are frequently present and reflect endothelial damage. Brain biopsy shows microinfarction to be the basic pathology, but more recent pathological studies have shown endothelial changes that are typical for an antiendothelial cell injury syndrome. Elevated levels of Factor VIII and von Willebrand Factor Antigen reflect the endothelial perturbation. Despite extensive evaluations, a procoagulant state has never been demonstrated. SS is an autoimmune endotheliopathy that requires treatment with immunosuppressants: steroids, cyclophosphamide, and intravenous immunoglobulin, usually in combination. Aspirin is a useful adjunct.

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