Disseminated inflammation of the central nervous system associated with acute hepatitis E: a case report

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftFallbericht (Case report)BeigetragenBegutachtung



BACKGROUND: Hepatitis E infection affects over 20 million people worldwide. Reports of neurological manifestations are largely limited to the peripheral nervous system. We report a middle-aged genotype 3c male patient with acute hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection and severe neurological deficits with evidence of multiple disseminated inflammatory lesions of the central nervous system.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 42-year-old male patient presented to our emergency department with musculoskeletal weakness, bladder and bowel retention, blurred vision and ascending hypoesthesia up to the level of T8. Serology showed elevated liver enzymes and positive IgM-titers of hepatitis E. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) showed mild pleocytosis and normal levels of glucose, lactate and protein. HEV-RNA-copies were detected in the CSF and stool. Within 3 days after admission the patient became paraplegic, had complete visual loss and absent pupillary reflexes. MRI showed inflammatory demyelination of the optic nerve sheaths, multiple subcortical brain regions and the spinal cord. Electrophysiology revealed axonal damage of the peroneal nerve on both sides with absent F-waves. Treatment was performed with methylprednisolone, two cycles of plasma exchange (PLEX), one cycle of intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) and ribavirin which was used off-label. Liver enzymes normalized after 1 week and serology was negative for HEV-RNA after 3 weeks. Follow-up MRI showed progressive demyelination and new leptomeningeal enhancement at the thoracic spine and cauda equina 4 weeks after admission. Four months later, after rehabilitation was completed, repeated MRI showed gliotic transformation of the spinal cord without signs of an active inflammation. Treatment with rituximab was initiated. The patient remained paraplegic and hypoesthesia had ascended up to T5. Nevertheless, he regained full vision.

CONCLUSIONS: Our case indicates a possible association of acute HEV infection with widespread disseminated central nervous system inflammation. Up to now, no specific drugs have been approved for the treatment of acute HEV infection. We treated our patient off-label with ribavirin and escalated immunomodulatory therapy considering clinical progression and the possibility of an autoimmune response targeting nerve cell structures. While response to treatment was rather limited in our case, detection of HEV in patients with acute neurological deficits might help optimize individual treatment strategies.


FachzeitschriftBMC neurology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 27 Okt. 2020

Externe IDs

PubMedCentral PMC7590485
Scopus 85094678201
ORCID /0000-0002-1511-8904/work/151982544


Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung


  • Acute Disease, Adult, Brain/pathology, Genotype, Hepatitis E/diagnosis, Hepatitis E virus/genetics, Humans, Inflammation/diagnosis, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male