JCV GCN in a natalizumab-treated MS patient is associated with mutations of the VP1 capsid gene

Neurology. 2014 Aug 19;83(8):727-32. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000713. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Objective: To describe the clinical, neuroimaging, immunologic, and virologic characteristics of JC virus-associated granule cell neuronopathy (JCV GCN) in a natalizumab-treated patient with multiple sclerosis (MS) who developed immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) after natalizumab withdrawal.

Methods: We obtained longitudinal clinical data as well as MRI and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy from this patient with MS. We measured JCV-specific cellular immune response in his peripheral blood by intracellular cytokine staining and sequenced a fragment of JCV VP1 capsid gene detected in his CSF. We contrast our findings with the first recently reported case.

Results: This patient presented with worsening cerebellar symptoms and progressive cerebellar atrophy without new MS lesions on MRI after 63 months of natalizumab monotherapy. JCV DNA was detected in his CSF by PCR and harbored novel GCN-type mutations in the VP1 gene. He developed IRIS upon discontinuation of natalizumab and plasma exchange, which manifested itself by a worsening of clinical symptoms and contrast enhancement in the cerebellum on MRI. Treatment with corticosteroids resulted in resolution of IRIS, as demonstrated by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The patient had a strong JCV-specific T-cell response in his peripheral blood and remains alive after 15 months from onset of symptoms, although with significant disability. He did not have MS relapse on glatiramer acetate.

Conclusions: JCV GCN should be considered in patients on natalizumab presenting with progressive cerebellar symptoms and cerebellar atrophy, and is associated with mutations in the JCV VP1 gene. Natalizumab withdrawal may be complicated by JCV GCN IRIS, and require treatment with corticosteroids.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Capsid / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome / genetics
  • JC Virus / drug effects*
  • JC Virus / immunology
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Natalizumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Natalizumab