We describe progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) caused by infection with human polyomavirus JC virus in a patient with multiple sclerosis who was treated with natalizumab. The first PML symptoms appeared after 14 monthly infusions of the drug. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a presumed multiple sclerosis lesion, and JC virus DNA was not detected on polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay of cerebrospinal fluid. The patient's symptoms worsened, and the diagnosis of PML was established with a more sensitive quantitative PCR assay after 16 infusions of natalizumab. Plasma exchange was used to accelerate clearance of natalizumab. Approximately 3 weeks after plasma exchange, an immune-reconstitution inflammatory syndrome appeared. JC virus DNA was no longer detectable on quantitative PCR assay, and the patient's symptoms improved.
2009 Massachusetts Medical Society