Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare but often fatal brain disease caused by reactivation of the polyomavirus JC. Knowledge of the characteristics of PML has substantially expanded since the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy during the HIV epidemic and the development of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in patients with PML. Recently, the monoclonal antibodies natalizumab, efalizumab, and rituximab--used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, haematological malignancies, Crohn's disease, and rheumatic diseases--have been associated with PML. Additionally, the JC virus can also lead to novel neurological disorders such as JC virus granule cell neuronopathy and JC virus encephalopathy, and might also cause meningitis. The increasingly diverse populations at risk and the recent discovery of the presence of the JC virus in the grey matter invite us to reappraise the pathogenesis of this virus in the CNS.
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