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Neurology. 1997 Nov;49(5):1400-4.

Delayed posthypoxic demyelination. Association with arylsulfatase A deficiency and lactic acidosis on proton MR spectroscopy.

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Department of Physiology, New York University Medical Center, NY, USA.


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.

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