Initial and follow-up MR imaging findings in AIDS-related progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy

M M Thurnher, M J Post, A Rieger, C Kleibl-Popov, C Loewe, E Schindler
AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology 2001, 22 (5): 977-84

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recent studies have shown the beneficial effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in AIDS-related progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The purpose of our study was to evaluate the initial and follow-up imaging findings and survival in patients with PML who were treated with HAART.

METHODS: The clinical course and MR imaging findings on initial and follow-up MR studies in four consecutive AIDS patients with PML who were treated with HAART are described.

RESULTS: Two patients were short-term survivors and died after 3 months. Two patients are still alive, with a survival time of 22 and 43 months, respectively. On initial MR studies, more extensive white matter changes were seen in the short-term survivors. Development of a mass effect and temporary enhancement (in one patient) was observed in two HAART responders on follow-up MR studies. Increased hypointensity on T1-weighted images with concomitant low signal on fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery fast spin-echo (FLAIR-FSE) images was seen in two responders, representing leukomalacia. Atrophic changes of the involved areas of the brain, consistent with burnt out PML lesions, were seen in two long-term survivors. In the short-term survivors, increased hypointensity was present on T1-weighted images with increased high signal on FLAIR-FSE images, representing progressive destructive disease.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that a clinical and radiologic response can be seen in some patients with AIDS-associated PML on HAART while in others there may be no beneficial response. Development of a mass effect and temporary enhancement on MR images in the early phase of treatment might represent positive predictive factors for prolonged survival.

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