Spontaneous MRI improvement and absence of cerebral calcification in Aicardi-Goutières syndrome: Diagnostic and disease-monitoring implications

Mol Genet Metab. 2019 Apr;126(4):489-494. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2019.02.006. Epub 2019 Feb 25.


Background: Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is a rare genetic leukoencephalopathy related to inappropriate activation of type I interferon. Neuroradiological findings are typically characterized by white matter abnormalities, cerebral atrophy and cerebral calcification. The disease usually manifests itself during the first year of life in the form of an initial "encephalitic-like" phase followed by a chronic phase of stabilization of the neurological signs. Recently new therapeutic strategies have been proposed aimed at blocking the abnormal activation of the interferon cascade.

Materials and methods: We reviewed clinical and MRI findings in three young RNASEH2B-mutated patients studied with serial CT and MRI studies.

Results: All three patients presented clinical and MRI features consistent with AGS but, very unexpectedly, an improving neuroradiological course. In patient 1, the MRI improvement was noted some months after treatment with high-dose steroid and IVIg treatment; in patients 2 and 3 it occurred spontaneously. Patient 2 did not show cerebral calcification on CT images.

Conclusions: Our series highlights the possibility of spontaneous neuroradiological improvement in AGS2 patients, as well as the possibility of absence of cerebral calcification in AGS. The study underlines the need for extreme caution when using MRI as an outcome measure in therapeutic trials specific for this disease. MRI follow-up studies in larger series are necessary to describe the natural course of AGS.

Keywords: Aicardi-Goutières syndrome; Cerebral calcification; Leukodystrophy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System / diagnostic imaging*
  • Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System / genetics
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Calcinosis*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Nervous System Malformations / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nervous System Malformations / genetics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Ribonuclease H / genetics
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • ribonuclease HII
  • Ribonuclease H

Supplementary concepts

  • Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome