Emerging themes in idiopathic intracranial hypertension

J Neurol. 2020 Dec;267(12):3776-3784. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10090-4. Epub 2020 Jul 22.


Purpose: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a rare disorder characterised by raised intracranial pressure. The underlying pathophysiology is mostly unknown and effective treatment is an unmet clinical need in this disease. This review evaluates key emerging themes regarding disease characteristics, mechanisms contributing to raised intracranial pressure and advances in potential therapeutic targets.

Findings: IIH is becoming more common, with the incidence rising in parallel with the global obesity epidemic. Current medical management remains centred around weight management, which is challenging. Metabolic investigations of patients have identified specific androgen profiles in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which suggest an endocrine dysfunction impacting CSF secretion in IIH. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) have been found to play a role in CSF dynamics in IIH and have formed the basis of the first clinical trials looking at new treatments.

Conclusions: Identification of novel molecular targets thought to underlie IIH pathology is now being translated to clinical trials.

Keywords: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1); Headache; Idiopathic intracranial hypertension; Intracranial pressure; Obesity; Papilloedema.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intracranial Hypertension*
  • Obesity
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri* / epidemiology
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri* / therapy