BackgroundMalaria still represents a major health threat, in terms of both morbidity and mortality. Complications of malaria present a diversified clinical spectrum, with neurological involvement leading to the most serious related-conditions. The authors recently encountered a case of a 60-year old Italian man presenting with confusion, language disturbances and Parkinson-like syndrome 3 weeks after complete remission from severe Plasmodium falciparum cerebral malaria. Chemical and microbiological analysis revealed aseptic meningitis, diffuse encephalitis and abnormal immune-activation. Re-infection and recrudescence of infection were excluded. Further analysis excluded paraneoplastic and autoimmune causes of encephalitis. A diagnosis of Post-Malaria Neurological Syndrome (PMNS) was finally formulated and successfully treated with high dose of steroids.MethodsA systematic research of current literature related to PMNS was performed.Results151 cases of PMNS were included, the majority of which occurred after severe P. falciparum infections. Four main clinical pattern were identified: 37% of the cases presented as "classical" PMNS, 36% presented as delayed cerebellar ataxia (DCA), 18% resembled acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), and 8% presented as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)-like form. Differentiation between different forms was not always simple, as clinical and radiological findings frequently overlap. Overall, in almost all of the tested cases, cerebrospinal fluid was found pathological; EEG revealed nonspecific encephalopathy in 30% of classical PMNS and 67% ADEM; imaging tests were found abnormal in 92% of ADEM-like forms. Pathogenesis remains unclear. An autoimmune mechanism is the most corroborated pathogenic hypothesis. Overall, the majority of PMNS cases revert without specific treatment. In most severe forms, high dose steroids, intravenous immunoglobulins, and plasmapheresis have been shown to improve symptoms.ConclusionsPMNS is a disabling complication of malaria. The overall incidence is not known, due to frequent misdiagnosis and under-reporting. Pathogenesis is not also fully understood, but rapid response to immune-modulating treatment along with similarities to auto-immune neurological disease, strongly support a dysregulated immunological genesis of this condition. The lack of randomized controlled studies regarding therapeutic approaches is a major unmet need in this setting. A systematic collection of all the PMNS cases would be desirable, in order to increase awareness of this rare condition and to prospectively investigate the most appropriate management.

Clinical presentation and immunological features of Post-Malaria Neurologic Syndrome: a case report and review of literature

Peghin, Maddalena;
2020

Abstract

BackgroundMalaria still represents a major health threat, in terms of both morbidity and mortality. Complications of malaria present a diversified clinical spectrum, with neurological involvement leading to the most serious related-conditions. The authors recently encountered a case of a 60-year old Italian man presenting with confusion, language disturbances and Parkinson-like syndrome 3 weeks after complete remission from severe Plasmodium falciparum cerebral malaria. Chemical and microbiological analysis revealed aseptic meningitis, diffuse encephalitis and abnormal immune-activation. Re-infection and recrudescence of infection were excluded. Further analysis excluded paraneoplastic and autoimmune causes of encephalitis. A diagnosis of Post-Malaria Neurological Syndrome (PMNS) was finally formulated and successfully treated with high dose of steroids.MethodsA systematic research of current literature related to PMNS was performed.Results151 cases of PMNS were included, the majority of which occurred after severe P. falciparum infections. Four main clinical pattern were identified: 37% of the cases presented as "classical" PMNS, 36% presented as delayed cerebellar ataxia (DCA), 18% resembled acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), and 8% presented as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)-like form. Differentiation between different forms was not always simple, as clinical and radiological findings frequently overlap. Overall, in almost all of the tested cases, cerebrospinal fluid was found pathological; EEG revealed nonspecific encephalopathy in 30% of classical PMNS and 67% ADEM; imaging tests were found abnormal in 92% of ADEM-like forms. Pathogenesis remains unclear. An autoimmune mechanism is the most corroborated pathogenic hypothesis. Overall, the majority of PMNS cases revert without specific treatment. In most severe forms, high dose steroids, intravenous immunoglobulins, and plasmapheresis have been shown to improve symptoms.ConclusionsPMNS is a disabling complication of malaria. The overall incidence is not known, due to frequent misdiagnosis and under-reporting. Pathogenesis is not also fully understood, but rapid response to immune-modulating treatment along with similarities to auto-immune neurological disease, strongly support a dysregulated immunological genesis of this condition. The lack of randomized controlled studies regarding therapeutic approaches is a major unmet need in this setting. A systematic collection of all the PMNS cases would be desirable, in order to increase awareness of this rare condition and to prospectively investigate the most appropriate management.
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Post-infectious encephalitis; Post-malaria neurological syndrome; Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Child; Child, Preschool; Female; Humans; Infant; Italy; Malaria, Falciparum; Malaria, Vivax; Male; Middle Aged; Nervous System Diseases; Syndrome; Young Adult
Castaldo, Nadia; Tascini, Carlo; Della Siega, Paola; Peghin, Maddalena; Pecori, Davide
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2140686
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