Acute encephalopathy with biphasic seizures and late reduced diffusion (AESD) is a recently clinicoradiologically-established encephalopathy syndrome. In the present study, we examined the levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau protein, a marker of axonal damage, in 11 patients with AESD. CSF tau levels were normal on day 1 and increased from day 3 of the disease between the initial and the secondary seizures. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals reduced diffusion in the subcortical white matter during days 3-7. Two patients showed elevated tau protein prior to the diffusion abnormality of subcortical white matter on MRI. Levels of CSF neuron specific enolase (NSE), a neuronal marker, were elevated in only two out of seven patients with AESD, and CSF tau levels were also increased in these patients. Our results indicated that tau protein is a more sensitive marker than NSE and axonal damage causes the conspicuous MRI findings in AESD patients. A therapeutic strategy for axonal protection should be developed to prevent severe neurological impairment of AESD patients.
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