Neuropathological Findings in Ephedrone Encephalopathy

Yanosh Sanotsky, Marianna Selikhova, Ludmyla Fedoryshyn, Petro Kuzyk, Yuriy Matviyenko, Orest Semeryak, Dorota Dziewulska, Janice L Holton, Andrew J Lees
Movement Disorders: Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society 2020 June 16

BACKGROUND: A number of cases of severe parkinsonism-dystonia have been recognized and reported following the illicit use of ephedrone prepared from pseudoephedrine and potassium permanganate. The pathology associated with ephedrone neurotoxicity has not been described yet in the scientific literature.

OBJECTIVES: To report the first neuropathological study of ephedrone toxicity.

METHODS: The brain of a 33-year-old Ukrainian female ex-ephedrone addict with a long history of l-dopa-unresponsive parkinsonism with dysarthria, dystonia, profound postural instability, cock-gait, and frequent falls, and on antiretroviral treatment, was examined using routine stains and immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: Neuropathological findings included diffuse pallidal astrogliosis without neuronal depletion. There was also widespread vascular pathology with small vessels occluded by foreign material, associated with giant cell response without any evidence of consequent focal infarction and a cerebellar abscess.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinical findings of l-dopa-unresponsive parkinsonism with dystonia, caused by illicit use of ephedrone, are fully consistent with neuropathological changes in the pallidum, lack of change in the SN, and preserved tyrosine hydroxylase activity. The findings in the basal ganglia are compatible with manganese toxicity. The vascular pathology is likely a joint effect of infection and the ephedrone toxicity on the vessels. © 2020 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

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