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Neurologic, MR imaging, and MR spectroscopic findings in eosinophilia myalgia syndrome.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), a multisystemic disease induced by exposure to L-tryptophan, may result in serious CNS abnormalities. The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern of neurologic characteristics, MR imaging abnormalities, and brain neurometabolites in EMS.

METHODS: Sixteen patients with EMS and CNS abnormalities (CNS-EMS) and 12 control subjects underwent evaluation, including medical and neurologic examination, proton MR spectroscopy, and MR imaging.

RESULTS: Neurologic findings that were increased in CNS-EMS included minor depression (100%), amnesia (88%), and intermittent confusion (38%), although fatigue (31%), motor disorders (31%), recurrent headache (19%), major depression (13%), and dementia (6%) also occurred, but at a lesser significance. Self-reported disability was markedly increased in CNS-EMS. MR imaging findings included subcortical focal lesions, focal lesions in deep white matter, cortical atrophy, ventricular dilatation, and diffuse and periventricular white matter abnormalities. MR spectroscopic findings established two distinct spectral patterns: 1) increased choline-containing compounds, decreased N-acetylaspartate, and increased lipid-macromolecules, consistent with inflammatory cerebrovascular disease; and 2) increased glutamine, decreased myo-inositol, and decreased choline, consistent with acute CNS injury or metabolic encephalopathy.

CONCLUSION: Neurologic abnormalities, self-reported disability, brain lesions, and MR spectroscopic abnormalities are common in CNS-EMS. The pattern of cerebral lesions and neurometabolites is consistent with widespread inflammatory cerebrovascular disease. However, a subgroup of patients with CNS-EMS have neurometabolic changes consistent with a metabolic encephalopathy identical or similar to hepatic encephalopathy. The neurologic abnormalities in EMS and related hypereosinophilic syndromes should be interpreted cautiously, with the recognition that both cerebrovascular injury and secondary metabolic encephalopathies may be involved.

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