Central nervous system tuberculosis

Sofiati Dian, Ahmad Rizal Ganiem, Arjan van Laarhoven
Current Opinion in Neurology 2021 March 3

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Central nervous system (CNS) tuberculosis is the most devastating form of tuberculosis (TB), with mortality and or neurological sequelae in over half of individuals. We reviewed original research and systematic reviews published since 1 January 2019 for new developments in CNS TB pathophysiology, diagnosis, management and prognosis.

RECENT FINDINGS: Insight in the pathophysiology is increasing steadily since the landmark studies in 1933, focussing on granuloma type classification, the relevance of the M. tuberculosis bacterial burden and the wide range of immunological responses. Although Xpert/RIF has been recommended by the WHO for extrapulmonary TB diagnosis, culture is still needed to increase the sensitivity of TB meningitis diagnosis. Sequential MRIs can improve understanding of neurological deficits at baseline and during treatment. Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelling suggests that higher doses of rifampicin and isoniazid in TB meningitis could improve survival.

SUMMARY: Recent studies in the field of CNS-TB have largely focussed on TB meningitis. The outcome may improve by optimizing treatment dosing. This needs to be confirmed in clinical trials. Due to the important role of inflammation, these trials should be used as the platform to study the inflammatory and metabolomic responses. This could improve understanding of the biology of this disease and improve patient outlook by enabling individualised host-directed therapy.

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