Central pontine myelinolysis following rapid correction of hyponatremia

Ann Neurol. 1983 Mar;13(3):232-42. doi: 10.1002/ana.410130303.


Central pontine and extrapontine myelinolysis was experimentally produced in dogs by the rapid correction of severe, sustained, vasopressin-induced hyponatremia. Hyponatremia alone or slowly corrected hyponatremia did not produce the disease. Affected dogs showed rigid quadriparesis. The central pons, lateral aspects of the thalamus and adjacent internal capsules, deep layers of cerebral cortex and subjacent white matter, cerebellum, and other regions were symmetrically involved. Myelin and oligodendroglia were affected out of proportion to axons and neurons. Thus, the clinical features, the distribution of the lesions, and their histological features closely resemble the human disease. These experiments document an electrolyte manipulation that can cause permanent neuropathological lesions. Taken with the available clinical data on human patients, the experimental results indicate that human myelinolysis may be due to a rapid increase in serum sodium from previously low levels, and that rapid normalization of severe, sustained hyponatremia should therefore be avoided.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / etiology*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Dogs
  • Hypertonic Solutions
  • Hyponatremia / drug therapy*
  • Pons* / pathology
  • Sodium Chloride / therapeutic use
  • Water Deprivation


  • Hypertonic Solutions
  • Sodium Chloride