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Acta Neuropathol. 1997 Mar;93(3):301-5.

Necrotizing Bacillus cereus infection of the meninges without inflammatory reaction in a patient with acute myelogenous leukemia: a case report.

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Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


A 64-year-old man in a severely immunocompromised state due to acute myelogenous leukemia died, respirator-unaided, about 10 h after the abrupt onset of coma. An earlier blood culture had yielded Bacillus cereus. The autopsy, performed 2 h after death, demonstrated diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage without berry aneurysms, and the formalin-fixed brain was tinged with gray-brownish discoloration. The sections of the brain presented a whitish tint of the surface layer of all portion of the cerebral cortices, even those in the sulci. Histological examination of the brain revealed leptomeningeal B. cereus dissemination, and widespread necrosis of the leptomeninges and arachnoid vessels without inflammatory cell reaction. The grossly recognizable whitish surface layer of the cerebral cortex showed overt hyperchromatism, and contained neurons more degenerative than those located in the deeper cortical layer. The total absence of inflammatory reaction may be explained by a combination of the immunocompromised state of the patient and the character of B. cereus infection, which in itself induces little inflammatory reaction. The prominent lesions were confined to the cerebral surface layer and leptomeningeal tissue including the arachnoid vessels, which were all bathed in the cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting that some necrotizing toxins had been secreted into the fluid by the B. cereus. The necrosis of arachnoid vessels is thought to have in turn caused diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage and marked disturbance of the cerebral blood flow, resulting in the terminal coma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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