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A new infectious encephalopathy syndrome, clinically mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX)

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A new infectious encephalopathy syndrome, clinically mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX)

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Abstract

Acute infectious encephalopathy is often observed in children in East Asia including Japan. More than 40% of the patients remain unclassified into specific syndromes. To investigate the underlying pathomechanisms in those with unclassified encephalopathy, we evaluated brain metabolism by MR spectroscopy. Among seven patients with acute encephalopathy admitted to our hospital from June 2016 to May 2017, three were classified into acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD). The other four showed consciousness disturbance lasting more than three days with no parenchymal lesion visible on MRI, which led to a diagnosis of unclassified encephalopathy. MR spectroscopy in these four patients, however, revealed an increase of glutamine with a normal N-acetyl aspartate level on days 5 to 8, which had normalized by follow-up studies on days 11 to 16. The four patients clinically recovered completely. Among 27 patients with encephalopathy, including the present seven patients, admitted to our hospital from January 2015 to March 2017, seven (26%) were classified into this type, which we propose is a new encephalopathy syndrome, clinically mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX). MEEX is the second most common subtype, following AESD (30%). This study suggests that excitotoxicity may be a common underlying pathomechanism of acute infectious encephalopathy, and prompt astrocytic neuroprotection from excitotoxicity may prevent progression of MEEX into AESD.

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Purpose: Acute excitotoxic encephalopathy is the most common encephalopathy syndrome in Japan, and consists of acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) and mild encephalopathy associated with excitotoxicity (MEEX). Neurological sequelae remain in approximately 70% of patients with AESD, however, it is difficult to predict the prognosis early in the course. We evaluated the brain metabolites observed on MRS as to whether they can predict the neurological outcome. Methods: 16 previously healthy Japanese patients with excitotoxic encephalopathy (8 with AESD and 8 with MEEX) were included in this study. MR spectroscopy (MRS) was acquired from the fronto-parietal white matter (TR/TE = 5000/30 msec) with a 3.0 T scanner. Quantification of metabolites was performed using an LCModel. Neurological outcome was assessed with the Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category score, score 1 being classified as G1 (normal), scores 2 and 3 as G2 (mild to moderate), and scores 4-6 as G3 (severe). Results: MRS data which predict a poor neurological outcome (G2 and 3) include the following: decreased N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) (sensitivity 88%, specificity 100%), decreased creatine (47%, 100%), increased lactate (47%, 100%), and decreased glutamate (sensitivity 35%, specificity 100%). Limited to the acute stage within seven days of onset, those for a poor prognosis are as follows, decreased NAA (88%, 100%), decreased creatine (38%, 100%), and increased lactate (38%, 100%). Conclusion: MRS is useful for prognosis prediction of acute excitotoxic encephalopathy. Decreased NAA will be the most effective metabolite for neurological prognosis prediction.
Article
Objective The present study aimed to determine whether granzymes are implicated in the pathogenesis of infection-associated acute encephalopathy (AE). Methods We investigated granzyme and cytokine levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with acute encephalopathy or complex febrile seizures (cFS). A total of 24 acute encephalopathy patients and 22 complex febrile seizures patients were included in the present study. Levels of granzymes A and B were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and levels of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 were assessed using the Bio-Plex suspension array system. Results Cerebrospinal fluid levels of granzyme A were significantly higher, and those of TNF-α and IL-1RA were significantly lower in the AE group than in the cFS group; however, no significant differences in the levels of granzyme B, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 were observed between the 2 groups. In addition, no significant differences in granzyme A, granzyme B, or cytokine levels were observed between acute encephalopathy patients with and those without neurologic sequelae. Conclusions Our findings indicate the involvement of granzyme A in the pathogenesis of acute encephalopathy.
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Glutamate is the most abundant free amino acid in the brain and is at the crossroad between multiple metabolic pathways. Considering this, it was a surprise to discover that glutamate has excitatory effects on nerve cells, and that it can excite cells to their death in a process now referred to as "excitotoxicity". This effect is due to glutamate receptors present on the surface of brain cells. Powerful uptake systems (glutamate transporters) prevent excessive activation of these receptors by continuously removing glutamate from the extracellular fluid in the brain. Further, the blood-brain barrier shields the brain from glutamate in the blood. The highest concentrations of glutamate are found in synaptic vesicles in nerve terminals from where it can be released by exocytosis. In fact, glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It took, however, a long time to realize that. The present review provides a brief historical description, gives a short overview of glutamate as a transmitter in the healthy brain, and comments on the so-called glutamate-glutamine cycle. The glutamate transporters responsible for the glutamate removal are described in some detail.
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Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that, by definition, allow communication between neurons and permit most neuronal-glial interactions in the CNS. Approximately 80% of all neurons use glutamate, and almost all interneurons use GABA. A third neurotransmitter, NAAG, modulates glutamatergic neurotransmission. Concentration changes in these molecules due to defective synthetic machinery, receptor expression, or errors in their degradation and metabolism are accepted causes of several neurologic disorders. Knowledge of changes in neurotransmitter concentrations in the brain can add useful information in making a diagnosis, helping to pick the right drug of treatment, and monitoring patient response to drugs in a more objective manner. Recent advances in (1)H-MR spectroscopy hold promise in providing a more reliable in vivo detection of these neurotransmitters. In this article, we summarize the essential biology of 3 major neurotransmitters: glutamate, GABA, and NAAG. Finally we illustrate possible applications of (1)H-MR spectroscopy in neuroscience research.
Article
Acute infectious encephalopathy is very frequently observed in children in East Asia including Japan. Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) is the most common subtype in Japan; however, more than 40% of the patients remain unclassified into specific syndromes. To investigate the underlying pathomechanism in those with unclassified acute encephalopathy, we evaluated brain metabolism by MR spectroscopy. Among 20 patients with acute encephalopathy admitted to our hospital during January 2015 to May 2016, 12 could not be classified into specific syndromes. MR spectroscopy was performed in 8 of these 12 patients with unclassified encephalopathy. MR spectroscopy showed an increase of glutamine with a normal N-acetyl aspartate level on days 3 to 8 in three of the 8 patients, which had normalized by follow-up studies. The three patients clinically recovered completely. This study suggests that excitotoxicity may be the underlying pathomechanism in some patients with unclassified mild encephalopathy.
Article
Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) at onset manifests an early seizure (ES) usually lasting more than 30min. Following ES, some patients exhibit almost clear consciousness with no neurological symptoms, and no MRI abnormality for a few days, which may lead to an initial misdiagnosis of prolonged febrile seizures (PFS). To allow an early diagnosis of AESD, we retrospectively analyzed clinical manifestations, laboratory data, and radiologic and EEG findings in patients with AESD (n=62) having ES of over 30min, and ones with PFS (n=54), using logistic regression analyses. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that an age below 1.5years and a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 14 or less than 14 (Japan Coma Scale score of 1 or higher) were high risk factors of developing AESD. We proposed an AESD prediction score system consisting of consciousness level, age, duration of convulsions, enforcement of mechanical intubation, and aspartate aminotransferase, blood glucose and creatinine levels (full score: 9), the mean scores in AESD and PFS being 5.9 and 1.8, which were significantly different (p<0.001). We herein propose a scoring system for differentiating patients with AESD and PFS around the time of ES (score of 4 or more than 4 suggesting AESD), which may contribute to early therapeutic intervention and an improved neurologic outcome. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Article
Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) is the most common subtype of infectious pediatric encephalopathy in Japan. It is sometimes difficult to make an early diagnosis of AESD; excitotoxicity is postulated to be the pathogenesis based on elevated glutamine (Gln) and glutamate (Glu) complex (Glx = Glu + Gln) observed on MR spectroscopy. It is uncertain whether Gln or Glu contributes to the elevated Glx, or whether MR spectroscopy is useful for an early diagnosis. Five Japanese patients with AESD (three boys and two girls, 1 year of age) were enrolled in this study. MR spectroscopy was acquired from the frontal white matter (repetition time (TR) of 5000 ms, echo time (TE) of 30 ms) with a 1.5- or 3.0-T scanner. MR spectroscopy was performed four times for two patients, three times for one patient, and two times for two patients. Quantification of Glu and Gln was performed using LCModel. Glu was elevated in three of four studies on days 1-4 and became normal or low afterward. Gln was normal in three studies on days 1-2, elevated in all seven studies on days 4-12, and became normal or low afterward. These findings suggest that MR spectroscopy may be useful for an early diagnosis. Acute Glu elevation changes to subacute Gln elevation, suggesting that a disrupted Glu-Gln cycle may play an important role.
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To examine metabolic changes of the brain in early infancy measured by the LCModel with the water scaling method (LCModel-WS), and to determine whether the unsuppressed water signal (UWS) on the MR console and the area of the unsuppressed water peak (AUW) in the LCModel can be used to correct metabolite concentrations. MR spectroscopy was performed on a 1.5 Tesla MR scanner. To determine whether UWS and AUW increases linearly with PD and exp(-TE/T2), these values were measured using three phantoms with different PD and T2 values. UWS and AUW were also measured (PRESS, TR = 5000 ms, TE = 30 ms, VOI = 4.5 mL) in 57 pediatric controls (aged 2 weeks to 15 years). Phantom studies revealed UWS and AUW increases linearly with PD and exp(-TE/T2). UWS and AUW were high in controls younger than 2 years of age, but gradually decreased to become almost constant after 4 years (UWS = 504 × 10(3) , AUW = 2.05 × 10(7)). AUW was linearly proportional to UWS in controls. These indicated that metabolite concentrations should be multiplied by the ratio of UWS/504 × 10(3) or AUW/2.05 × 10(7). Age dependent metabolite concentrations corrected by the ratio were obtained. Both UWS and AUW can be used to correct metabolite concentrations; these corrections can significantly improve quantification of metabolites' concentration in early childhood.
Article
A research committee supported by the Japanese government conducted a nationwide survey on the epidemiology of acute encephalopathy in Japan using a questionnaire. A total of 983 cases reportedly had acute encephalopathy during the past 3 years, 2007-2010. Among the pathogens of the preceding infection, influenza virus was the most common, followed by human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) and rotavirus. Among syndromes of acute encephalopathy, acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) was the most frequent, followed by clinically mild encephalitis/encephalopathy with a reversible splenial lesion (MERS), acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE) and hemorrhagic shock and encephalopathy syndrome (HSES). Influenza virus was strongly associated with ANE and MERS, HHV-6 with AESD, and rotavirus with MERS. Mortality was high in ANE and HSES, but was low in AESD, MERS and HHV-6-associated encephalopathy. Neurologic sequelae were common in AESD and ANE, but were absent in MERS.
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Two newly proposed infectious encephalitis/encephalopathy syndromes, in which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is essential for the diagnosis, have been reviewed. Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) is reported only in East Asian infants, characterized by a febrile seizure (usually >30 min) as the initial neurological symptom on day 1, followed by secondary seizures at day 4 to 6; affected children display variable levels of neurological sequelae. MRI shows no acute abnormality during the first two days; reduced diffusion appears in the frontal or fronto-parietal subcortical white matter during days 3 to 9, then disappears between days 9 and 25. Excitotoxic injury with delayed neuronal death is hypothesized as a possible mechanism based on MR spectroscopic findings. Clinically mild encephalitis/encephalopathy with a reversible splenial lesion (MERS) is characterized by a reversible lesion with homogeneously reduced diffusion in the corpus callosum (at least involving the splenium), sometimes associated with symmetrical white matter lesions. The most common neurological symptom is delirious behavior, followed by consciousness disturbance, and seizures, all of which completely recover within a month. The reason for the transiently reduced diffusion within the lesions is unknown; possibilities that have been postulated include intramyelinic edema, interstitial edema in tightly packed fibers, and a transient inflammatory infiltrate.
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Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) is a recently described clinicoradiologic syndrome. MR spectroscopy in 3 patients with AESD revealed decreased N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and elevated glutamine/glutamate complex (Glx) during the week of presentation. Afterward, Glx normalized, whereas NAA remained low in 2 patients with neurologic sequelae but nearly normalized in the third patient without neurologic sequelae. These findings support the hypothesis that excitotoxic neuronal damage plays an important role in the pathogenesis of AESD and suggest that MR spectroscopy might be predictive of outcome.
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Transsynaptic injury caused by excitotoxic amines is a specific type of injury in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Recent studies have shown that the receptors related to excitotoxic mechanisms are widely distributed in the brain, not only in the gray matter (neurons and astrocytes) but also in the white matter (astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, myelin sheaths, and axons) (1). The object of this review is to illustrate and de- scribe excitotoxic mechanisms in various acute neu- rologic conditions. Such conditions include infarction, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), the early phase of wallerian and transneuronal degeneration, shaken baby syndrome, status epilepticus, a corpus callosum lesion related to either seizures or antiepi- leptic drugs, diffuse axonal injury, toxic or metabolic leukoencephalopathy, the acute phase of multiple sclerosis, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Exci- totoxic brain injury is considered a final common pathway for various neuropathologic conditions and causes cytotoxic edema. Diffusion-weighted (DW) imaging is especially useful for the early detection of cytotoxic edema as an area of abnormal hyperinten- sity associated with a decreased apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC).
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Patients with encephalopathy heralded by a prolonged seizure as the initial symptom often have abnormal subcortical white matter on diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI). To determine if these patients share other common features. Patients with encephalopathy heralded by a prolonged seizure and followed by the identification of abnormal subcortical white matter on MRI were collected retrospectively. Their clinical, laboratory, and radiologic data were reviewed. Seventeen patients were identified, ages 10 months to 4 years. All had a prolonged febrile seizure (longer than 1 hour in 12 patients) as their initial symptom. Subsequent seizures, most often in clusters of complex partial seizures, were seen 4 to 6 days after the initial seizure in 16 patients. Outcome ranged from almost normal to severe mental retardation. MRI performed within 2 days of presentation showed no abnormality. Subcortical white matter lesions were observed on DWI between 3 and 9 days in all 17 patients. T2-weighted images showed linear high intensity of subcortical U fibers in 13 patients. The lesions were predominantly frontal or frontoparietal in location with sparing of the perirolandic region. The diffusion abnormality disappeared between days 9 and 25, and cerebral atrophy was detected later than 2 weeks. Three patients having only frontal lesions had relatively good clinical outcome. Although the pathophysiologic mechanism remains unknown, these patients seem to have a distinctive encephalopathy syndrome. MRI is helpful in establishing the diagnosis of this encephalopathy.
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Two Japanese infants with influenza A infection presented with a brief febrile seizure, followed by secondary seizures and disturbance of consciousness on day 5. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed reduced subcortical diffusion around day 5. Both were diagnosed with mild form of acute encephalopathy syndrome characterized by biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion. It is important for clinicians in Asian countries to recognize and to inform parents that secondary progression may occur even after a brief febrile seizure with influenza.
Article
It is well known that an acute encephalopathy occasionally follows prolonged febrile seizures. We measured the concentrations of interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and soluble TNF receptor 1 (sTNFR1) in serum and CSF during the acute stage in 13 children with acute encephalopathy following prolonged febrile seizures (AEPFS) and 23 with prolonged febrile seizures without encephalopathy (PFS) to investigate the pathogenesis of AEPFS. Serum IL-6, IL-10, sTNFR1, and CSF IL-6 levels were significantly higher in AEPFS and PFS compared with control subjects. CSF IL-6 levels in AEPFS were significantly higher than those in PFS, but not serum IL-6, IL-10, or sTNFR1. The CSF IL-6 levels were significantly higher than the serum levels in AEPFS, but not PFS. The serum levels of sTNFR1 and IL-10 were significantly higher than those in the CSF in AEPFS and PFS. The serum IL-10 and sTNFR1 levels in patients who did not experience a second seizure were significantly higher than those in patients who experienced a second seizure, which was characterized by clusters of complex partial seizures several days after the initial prolonged febrile seizure. Our results suggest that serum IL-6, IL-10, TNF-alpha, and CSF IL-6 are part of the regulatory system of cytokines in AEPFS.
Acute encephalopathy is the most serious complication of pediatric viral infections, such as influenza and exanthem subitum. It occurs worldwide, but is most prevalent in East Asia, and every year several hundreds of Japanese children are affected by influenza-associated encephalopathy. Mortality has recently declined, but is still high. Many survivors are left with motor and intellectual disabilities, and some with epilepsy. This article reviews various syndromes of acute encephalopathy by classifying them into three major categories. The first group caused by metabolic derangement consists of various inherited metabolic disorders and the classical Reye syndrome. Salicylate is a risk factor of the latter condition. The second group, characterized by a systemic cytokine storm and vasogenic brain edema, includes Reye-like syndrome, hemorrhagic shock and encephalopathy syndrome, and acute necrotizing encephalopathy. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac sodium and mephenamic acid, may aggravate these syndromes. Severe cases are complicated by multiple organ failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Mortality is high, although methylprednisolone pulse therapy may be beneficial in some cases. The third group, characterized by localized edema of the cerebral cortex, has recently been termed acute encephalopathy with febrile convulsive status epilepticus, and includes hemiconvulsion-hemiplegia syndrome and acute infantile encephalopathy predominantly affecting the frontal lobes. Theophylline is a risk factor of these syndromes. The pathogenesis is yet to be clarified, but an increasing body of evidence points to excitotoxicity and delayed neuronal death.