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Mult Scler. 2011 Dec;17(12):1531-8. doi: 10.1177/1352458511414042. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

A second case of Marburg's variant of multiple sclerosis with vasculitis and extensive demyelination.

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University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Department of Neurology, USA.


Marburg's variant of multiple sclerosis is a rapidly progressive and malignant form of multiple sclerosis (MS) that usually leads to severe disability or death within weeks to months without remission. Few cases have been described in the literature since the original description by Marburg. The classic pathological findings usually include highly destructive zones of extensive demyelination, necrosis with dense cellular infiltrate, and giant reactive astrocytes. We report a case of a 31-year-old woman with Marburg's variant of MS who, over a period of eight months, became totally disabled, blind, and quadriplegic, with vocal cord paralysis, requiring a tracheostomy. The patient underwent diagnostic stereotactic brain biopsy. Clinical findings, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), serologic and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) findings, and neuropathology are discussed. MRI showed extensive white matter involvement in the brain and spinal cord that continuously progressed over time. A diagnostic stereotactic brain biopsy revealed extensive active demyelination with unexpected finding of active vasculitis and fibrinoid necrosis with a vascular inflammatory cell infiltrate, including polymorphonuclear neutrophils and rare eosinophils. Serologic work-up for vasculitis and neuromyelitis optica was unremarkable and the CSF showed only one oligoclonal band (OCB) not present in serum. This is the second case of Marburg's variant of MS that demonstrated both demyelination and vasculitis. In our case these features were demonstrated simultaneously, even though the demyelination was the predominant pathological finding. Since vasculitis is not a feature of classic MS, these findings pose the question as to whether Marburg's variant of MS is a true variant or different entity altogether.

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