Delayed demyelination is a rare and poorly understood complication of hypoxic brain injury. A previous case report has suggested an association with mild-to-moderate deficiency of arylsulfatase A. We describe a 36-year- old man who recovered completely from an episode of hypoxia related to drug overdose, and 2 weeks later progressed from a confusional state to deep coma. MRI showed diffuse white matter signal changes, and brain biopsy demonstrated a noninflammatory demyelinating process. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed elevated choline and lactate and reduced N-acetyl aspartate signal in the affected white matter, consistent with demyelination and a shift to anaerobic metabolism. Arylsulfatase A activity from peripheral leukocytes was approximately 50% of normal, consistent with a 'pseudodeficiency' phenotype. These findings confirm the hypothesis that relative arylsulfatase A deficiency predisposes susceptible individuals to delayed posthypoxic leukoencephalopathy and implicates lactic acidosis in the pathogenesis of this disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology