Absence of thallium-201 brain uptake in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in AIDS patients

Acta Neurol Scand. 1999 Aug;100(2):102-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1999.tb01046.x.


Objective: To evaluate the presence of thallium-201 brain uptake determined by thallium-201 brain SPECT (Tl-201 SPECT) in patients with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and AIDS.

Material and methods: Six AIDS patients with stereotactic biopsy diagnosis of PML were prospectively evaluated with Tl-201 SPECT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). Tl-201 SPECT results were compared with 2 patients with AIDS and biopsy proven primary CNS lymphoma.

Results: In all patients with PML, Tl-201 SPECT studies showed lack of uptake while MRI demonstrated subcortical white matter focal brain lesions and 1H-MRS disclosed metabolic abnormalities. Intense thallium uptake (uptake ratios of 3.2 and 5.6) was demonstrated in the 2 patients with primary CNS lymphoma.

Conclusions: The present study shows that PML lesions are not detectable on Tl-201 SPECT while MRI and 1H-MRS demonstrate abnormalities, and intense thallium-201 uptake may be detected in primary CNS lymphoma. These results suggest that Tl-201 SPECT is a method which, combined with other non-invasive techniques such as MRI and 1H-MRS, may help in the diagnostic approach of PML and to differentiate PML from other high proliferative brain lesions characterized by positive thallium uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / diagnostic imaging*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Thallium Radioisotopes
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*


  • Thallium Radioisotopes