Background: Acute hemorrhagic encephalomyelitis (AHEM) is considered as a rare form of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis characterized by fulminant encephalopathy with hemorrhagic necrosis and most often fatal outcome.
Objective: To report the association with Ran Binding Protein (RANBP2) gene variant and the response to decompressive craniectomy and high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP) in life-threatening AHEM.
Design: Single case study.
Case report: A 6-year-old girl known to have sickle cell disease (SCD) presented an acquired demyelinating syndrome (ADS) with diplopia due to sudden unilateral fourth nerve palsy. She received five pulses of IVMP (30 mg/kg/day). Two weeks after steroid weaning, she developed right hemiplegia and coma. Brain magnetic resonance imaging showed a left frontal necrotico-hemorrhagic lesion and new multifocal areas of demyelination. She underwent decompressive craniotomy and evacuation of an ongoing left frontoparietal hemorrhage. Comprehensive investigations ruled out vascular and infectious process. The neurological deterioration stopped concomitantly with combined neurosurgical drainage of the hematoma, decompressive craniotomy, IVMP, and intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG). She developed during the following months Crohn disease and sclerosing cholangitis. After 2-year follow-up, there was no new neurological manifestation. The patient still suffered right hemiplegia and aphasia, but was able to walk. Cognitive/behavioral abilities significantly recovered. A heterozygous novel rare missense variant (c.4993A>G, p.Lys1665Glu) was identified in RANBP2, a gene associated with acute necrotizing encephalopathy. RANBP2 is a protein playing an important role in the energy homeostasis of neuronal cells.
Conclusion: In any ADS occurring in the context of SCD and/or autoimmune condition, we recommend to slowly wean steroids and to closely monitor the patient after weaning to quickly treat any recurrence of neurological symptom with IVMP. This case report, in addition to others, stresses the likely efficacy of combined craniotomy, IVIG, and IVMP treatments in AHEM. RANBP2 mutations may sensitize the brain to inflammation and predispose to AHEM.
Keywords: Acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis; Acute necrotizing encephalopathy; Crohn disease; RANBP2; encephalitis; sclerosing cholangitis; sickle cell disease.