ABSTRACT: Cutaneous anthrax, caused by Bacillus anthracis contacting the skin, is the most common form of human anthrax. Recent studies implicate the presence of additional, possibly toxin-related subtle changes, even in patients without neurological or radiological findings. In this study, the presence of subtle changes in cutaneous anthrax was investigated at the metabolite level using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Study subjects were consisted of 10 patients with cutaneous anthrax without co-morbid disease and/or neurological findings, and 13 healthy controls. There were no statistical differences in age and gender between two groups. The diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax was based on medical history, presence of a typical cutaneous lesion, large gram positive bacilli on gram staining and/or positive culture for B. anthracis from cutaneous samples. Brain magnetic resonance imaging examination consisted of conventional imaging and single-voxel magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was performed by using point-resolved spectroscopy sequence (TR: 2000ms, TE: 136ms, 128 averages). Voxels of 20mm×20mm×20mm were placed in normal-appearing parietal white matter to detect metabolite levels. Cerebral metabolite peaks were measured in normal appearing parietal white matter. N-acetyl aspartate/creatine and choline/creatine ratios were calculated using standard analytical procedures. Patients and controls were not statistically different regarding parietal white matter N-acetyl aspartate/creatine ratios (p=0.902), a finding that implicates the conservation of neuronal and axonal integrity and neuronal functions. However, choline/creatine ratios were significantly higher in patient groups (p=0.001), a finding implicating an increased membrane turnover. In conclusion, these two findings point to a possibly anthrax toxins-related subtle inflammatory reaction of the central nervous system at the cellular level.
Medical Hypotheses 04/2012; 79(1):43-6. · 1.39 Impact Factor