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Cryptococcal meningitis in a multiple sclerosis patient taking natalizumab

Reuben Mari Valenzuela, John H. Pula, Dennis Garwacki, John Cotter, Jorge C. Kattah

Journal of the Neurological Sciences, In Press, March 2014


Natalizumab was approved in 2004 by the US Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), however it was temporarily withdrawn after its use was associated with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Other reported adverse events have included melanoma, primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma, and gastrointestinal cryptosporidiosis. An MS exacerbation may occur after discontinuation and immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), particularly in the setting of PML, is also possible.

We present the first case of cryptococcal meningitis in a patient taking natalizumab. Managements of both cryptococcal meningitis and MS after discontinuation of natalizumab are the focus of this report.

This is a case report describing a 49-year old Caucasian man with relapsing–remitting MS (RR-MS) on natalizumab. On the twenty-fourth month of natalizumab treatment, he developed cryptococcal meningitis, prompting its discontinuation. Two months later, off natalizumab, while on antifungal treatment, he developed an MS exacerbation. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) JC virus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serology were repeatedly negative.

Conclusions and relevance
Although specific recommendations for treating natalizumab-associated cryptococcal meningitis do not exist, our patient discontinued natalizumab and started conventional anti-fungal treatment. Two months later, he was treated with steroids due to worsening neurologic status from a presumed MS attack. Subsequently, he improved with successful treatment of the cryptococcal meningitis, with no new clinical or radiographic exacerbations.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

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