Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is an infrequent disorder
of the nervous system that primarily affects individuals with suppressed immune systems
(including, allograft recipients such as kidney transplant patients; patients with cancers
such as leukemia or lymphoma; and nearly 10% of patients with acquired immune deficiency
syndrome AIDS. The disorder, which is caused by a common human polyomavirus, JC
virus, is characterized by demyelination or destruction of the myelin sheath that covers
nerve cells. The myelin sheath is the fatty covering - which acts as an insulator - on
nerve fibers in the brain. Symptoms of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy include
mental deterioration, vision loss, speech disturbances, ataxia (inability to coordinate
movements), paralysis, and, ultimately, coma reflecting the multifocal distribution of
brain lesions. In rare cases, seizures may occur.
Is there any treatment for Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopath?
There is no cure for Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, nor is
there currently an effective treatment for the disorder. Treatment is symptomatic and
What is the prognosis of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopath?
The course of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy is relentlessly
progressive. Death usually occurs between 1 and 4 months after onset, but there have been
a number of reported cases with survival for months to years.
What research is being done for Progressive Multifocal
The NINDS supports research on demyelinating disorders of the nervous
system such as Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy aimed at increasing scientific
understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure the disease
utilizing state of the art molecular diagnostic techniques.
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892