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.
"MRI show a distinctive pattern of supratentorial white matter lesions that always involve the central corpus callosum . Our understanding of the natural history of Susac syndrome is incomplete . Immunosuppressive treatment is indicated during active stages of the disease. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Susac syndrome is an autoimmune microangiopathy affecting the brain, retina and inner ear (cochlea and semicircular canals), leading to encephalopathy, branch retinal artery occlusions (BRAOs) and asymmetric neurosensory hearing loss, respectively. The natural history and long-term prognosis are variable as the disease has been shown to be monophasic and self-limiting, polycyclic or chronic continuous. We describe a 35-year-old woman who presented with a sudden hearing loss in the left ear in the 37th week of her second pregnancy. She subsequently developed BRAO in the right eye 2.5 months after having given birth. MRI findings included round lesions in the corpus callosum which are pathognomonic for Susac syndrome. Previous patient records documented encephalopathy, sudden deafness of the right ear and visual field defects in the left eye at the age of 12, followed by permanent hearing and visual defects. We expand on the variability in the course of Susac syndrome as recurrence may occur after as long as 23 years. Cases of monophasic self-limiting Susac syndrome may in fact turn polycyclic with an interval of more than 2 decades between the bouts of the disease. In these cases, suspecting the development of exacerbation early is important in order to start the treatment promptly.
Case Reports in Neurology 05/2014; 6(2):171-5. DOI:10.1159/000362868
"Although spontaneous recovery and long-term remission have been described, many patients respond to immunosuppressive agents, suggesting a possible autoimmune pathogenesis [1,5,7]. A role for anti-endothelial cell antibodies (AECA) in the pathogenesis of SuS was proposed by Susac and co-workers in two review articles in 2007 with reference to unpublished data [7,8]. However, no original studies had been published by then to substantiate this claim. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Susac syndrome (SuS) is a rare disorder thought to be caused by autoimmune-mediated occlusions of microvessels in the brain, retina and inner ear leading to central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, visual disturbances due to branch retinal artery occlusions (BRAO), and hearing deficits. Recently, a role for anti-endothelial cell antibodies (AECA) in SuS has been proposed.Objectives: To report the clinical and paraclinical findings in the largest single series of patients so far and to investigate the frequency, titers, and clinical relevance of AECA in SuS.Patients and methods: A total of 107 serum samples from 20 patients with definite SuS, 5 with abortive forms of SuS (all with BRAO), and 70 controls were tested for AECA by immunohistochemistry employing primate brain tissue sections.
IgG-AECA >1:100 were detected in 25% (5/20) of patients with definite SuS and in 4.3% (3/70) of the controls. Median titers were significantly higher in SuS (1:3200, range 1:100 to 1:17500) than in controls (1:100, range 1:10 to 1:320); IgG-AECA titers >1:320 were exclusively present in patients with SuS; three controls had very low titers (1:10). Follow-up samples (n = 4) from a seropositive SuS patient obtained over a period of 29 months remained positive at high titers. In all seropositive cases, AECA belonged to the complement-activating IgG1 subclass. Ten IgG-AECA-positive samples (90.9%), were positive also for IgA-AECA and 5 (45.5%) for IgM-AECA. SuS took a severe and relapsing course in most patients and was associated with bilateral visual and hearing impairment, a broad panel of neurological and neuropsychological symptoms, and brain atrophy in the majority of cases. Seropositive and seronegative patients did not differ with regard to any of the clinical or paraclinical parameters analyzed.
SuS took a severe and protracted course in the present cohort, resulting in significant impairment. Our finding of high-titer IgG1 and IgM AECA in some patients suggest that humoral autoimmunity targeting the microvasculature may play a role in the pathogenesis of SuS, at least in a subset of patients. Further studies are warranted to define the exact target structures of AECA in SuS.
Journal of Neuroinflammation 03/2014; 11(1):46. DOI:10.1186/1742-2094-11-46 · 5.41 Impact Factor
"Susac’s syndrome (SS) is a rare autoimmune microangiopathic disorder, affecting precapillary arterioles of the brain, retina and cochlea . Until now, approximately 200 cases have been reported , mainly in women. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Susac's Syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune endotheliopathy of cerebral, retinal and cochlear arterioles. We report of an HIV-infected woman who developed a first SS episode following a spontaneous reduction of plasma viral load and several relapses six years later, following initiation of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). Corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulins alone did not control the disease, which improved after combined treatment with acyclovir and ganciclovir. SS onset in HIV infection and relapses during cART-induced immune reconstitution are consistent with the dysimmune nature of the disease. The response to anti-herpes drugs suggests a viral contribute in this case of SS.
AIDS Research and Therapy 09/2013; 10(1):22. DOI:10.1186/1742-6405-10-22 · 1.46 Impact Factor
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