The vasculopathy of varicella-zoster virus encephalitis
Amlie-Lefond, C.; Kleinschmidt-DeMasters, B.K.; Mahalingam, R.; Davis, L.E.; Gilden, D.H.
Annals of Neurology 37(6): 784-790
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) encephalitis has become more prevalent in the era of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and other immunosuppressive diseases and poses diagnostic and therapeutic challenges for clinicians, radiologists, and pathologists. Six cases studied at our institutions shed light on the patterns and pathogenesis of the disease. VZV encephalitis is predominantly a vasculopathy, involving small and large vessels, that generates seizures, mental changes, and focal deficits. Brain imaging reveals large and small ischemic or hemorrhagic infarcts, often both, of cortex and subcortical gray and white matter. Deep-seated white matter lesions often predominate and are ischemic and/or demyelinative, depending on the size of blood vessels involved and the amount of additional demyelination caused by infection of oligodendrocytes. The demyelinative lesions are smaller and less coalescent than those seen in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.