Evidence for Independent Hepatitis E Virus Replication in the Brain

Evert P.M. den Drijver, Annemarie E. Brouwer, Nathalie E. Synhaeve, Janneke P. Keijer, Jaco J. Verweij, Jean-Luc Murk, Suzan D. Pas
2021 Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation  
A 46-year-old man presented with a 5-year history of fatigue, frequent painful muscular spasms in the extremities, and tingling sensations in the hands and feet. His medical history consisted of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a cervical Mycobacterium avium lymphadenitis during childhood and lateral ligament reconstruction of both ankles after trauma. Neurologic examination revealed hyperesthesia of arms and legs and inconsistent motor dysfunction without paresis. No muscle spasms
more » ... o muscle spasms were witnessed. During the examination, the patient showed inconsistent limb weakness without objective paresis as seen in patients with functional neurologic disorder. MRI reports of brain and spinal cord were unremarkable. EMG did not show any sign of polyneuropathy. CSF had 5 white blood cells/mm 3 , no red blood cells, and normal protein (0.36 g/L) and glucose (3.4 mmol/L) levels. Peripheral blood chemistry showed no abnormalities except for elevated gamma-glutamyl and alanine aminotransferases (GGT and ALT of 139 and 58 U/L, respectively). Microbiological examinations provided detectable anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV)-immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgG antibodies and HEV RNA in serum and CSF. Intrathecal antibody production of anti-HEV IgG was confirmed by calculation of the CSF-serum antibody index, being 7.5. Other hepatitis serology and HIV were negative. The patient did not use immunosuppressive drugs, and a basic immunologic screening did not reveal any immunodeficiencies, with 800/mm 3 CD4 cells and normal IgA, IgM, and IgG subclass analysis. There were no signs of an underlying autoimmune disease and no history of recurrent infections. Because it was expected that the immunocompetent man would clear the HEV infection, no treatment with ribavirin was started until it became evident at day 205 after the initial presentation that HEV RNA persisted in feces, plasma, and CSF (figure, A). After treatment was started at day 205, HEV RNA became undetectable in serum (day 236) and feces (day 282) and GGT and ALT levels normalized (figure, B). In CSF, however, HEV RNA remained detectable under ribavirin treatment for more than a year, with PCR cycle threshold values between 29.3 and 32.5, without a consistent decrease of viral load. The anti-HEV IgG CSF-serum antibody index increased to 30, which provided evidence for increased intrathecal IgG production (figure, A). Ribavirin plasma concentrations were within therapeutic levels (day 551, >2.00 mg/ L). PEG-interferon alpha 2a was added to ribavirin at day 567 because HEV RNA in CSF persisted and the patient showed only very limited signs of (subjective) improvement. Adding PEG-interferon alpha 2a did not result in clinical or virologic improvement, with HEV RNA in CSF still being present after 14 months of combined treatment. At day 991, it was decided to stop further treatment with ribavirin and PEG-interferon alpha 2a. After treatment was discontinued, HEV RNA in feces was tested at day 1,084 and in CSF and serum at day 1,089, with Clinical neurology history following collection(s): This article, along with others on similar topics, appears in the Permissions & Licensing http://nn.neurology.org/misc/about.xhtml#permissions its entirety can be found online at: Information about reproducing this article in parts (figures,tables) or in Reprints http://nn.neurology.org/misc/addir.xhtml#reprintsus Information about ordering reprints can be found online: Academy of Neurology.. All rights reserved. Online
doi:10.1212/nxi.0000000000000939 fatcat:6x2ujm4gove3bbobakbbi7mrxq