Usefulness of 11C-methionine-positron emission tomography for the diagnosis of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

Shinichi Shirai, Ichiro Yabe, Takahiro Kano, Yuka Shimizu, Toru Sasamori, Kazunori Sato, Makoto Hirotani, Takayuki Nonaka, Ikuko Takahashi, Masaaki Matsushima, Naoya Minami, Kazuo Nakamichi, Masayuki Saijo, Kanako C Hatanaka, Tohru Shiga, Shinya Tanaka, Hidenao Sasaki
Journal of Neurology 2014, 261 (12): 2314-8
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a subacute demyelinating disease of the brain caused by the JC virus that occurs mainly in immunocompromised patients. The prognosis is very poor. As the lesion looks like non- specific leukoencephalopathy, making a diagnosis at the early stage is very difficult. We report three PML cases in which there was a mismatch between (11)C-methionine-positron emission tomography (MET-PET) uptake and (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) uptake. All three cases demonstrated the hyper-uptake of MET around the white matter lesions and hypo-uptake of FDG inside the lesions. We speculate that the infection had ended inside the white matter lesions of these patients, while JC virus infection was ongoing around the lesions, resulting in the increase of methionine metabolism, and the glucose metabolism was reduced or intermediate because inflammatory cells infiltrate PML lesions rarely. Two patients who were diagnosed and treated with mefloquine while the JC virus was at a low level in the cerebrospinal fluid are still alive. We suggest the usefulness of MET-PET for the early diagnosis of PML and early treatment with mefloquine.

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