Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis associated with hepatitis C virus infection

Arch Neurol. 2001 Oct;58(10):1679-81. doi: 10.1001/archneur.58.10.1679.


Background: Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that is frequently preceded by an acute viral infection. This is the first reported case of ADEM associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Case description: A 46-year-old woman underwent a surgical procedure and received multiple blood transfusions, at which time serologic testing for HCV was negative. Fifty days later, she suddenly developed seizures, alteration of consciousness, right hemiparesis, hemianopsia, and urinary retention. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed symmetric multifocal changes on T2-weighted images in the cerebral gray and white matter and in the cerebellar white matter with some lesion enhancement after gadolinium administration. Blood testing showed a recent HCV infection with high titer of IgM early antigens and a strongly positive reaction for HCV RNA. All other microbiological and virological test results were negative both in serum and in cerebrospinal fluid. Treatment with high-dose dexamethasone was followed by a dramatic improvement of the clinical and magnetic resonance picture. Within a few months the patient recovered completely and there were no relapses during 2 years of follow-up.

Conclusions: Infection with HCV is associated with several autoimmune neurological manifestations. It is recommended the patients with ADEM be screened for HCV.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated / virology*
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Hepatitis C / blood
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Italy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • RNA, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • RNA, Viral