Characteristic brain magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in central nervous system aquaporin-4 autoimmunity

Woojun Kim, Su Park Min Su Park, Hyun Lee Sang Hyun Lee, Su Hyun Kim, Ja Jung In Ja Jung, Toshiyuki Takahashi, Tatsuro Misu, Kazuo Fujihara, Ho Jin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although neuromyelitis optica has been traditionally regarded as a disease without brain involvement, brain abnormalities are not uncommon in patients with neuromyelitis optica-related disorders. Methods: We aimed to characterize the brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder patients who are seropositive for anti-aquaporin-4 autoantibody (AQP4 Ab). Of 236 consecutive patients with inflammatory demyelinating central nervous system diseases, we retrospectively analyzed MRI characteristics of 78 patients who were seropositive for AQP4 Ab. Results: For an average observational period of 6.3 years, 62 patients (79%) had brain lesions on MRI. Twenty-four patients (31%) had brain MRI abnormalities at the onset of disease, and 35 (45%) had symptomatic brain involvement. Characteristic brain MRI abnormalities were classified into five categories: (1) lesions involving corticospinal tracts (e.g. posterior limb of internal capsule and cerebral peduncle (44%); (2) extensive hemispheric lesions likely due to vasogenic edema (29%); (3) periependymal lesions surrounding aqueduct and the third and fourth ventricles (22%); (4) periependymal lesions surrounding lateral ventricles (40%); and (5) medullary lesions, often contiguous with cervical lesions (31%). Fifty-four patients (69%) showed at least one kind of brain abnormality among the five characteristic MRI lesions. Ten patients showed gadolinium-enhancing lesions, which were characterized by multiple patchy enhancing patterns with blurred margins. Conclusions: In central nervous system AQP4 autoimmunity, brain MRI abnormalities were more common than is generally appreciated and were characterized by their unique localization and configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1236
Number of pages8
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Oct


  • Aquaporin-4
  • MRI
  • atuoimmunity
  • brain abnormality
  • neuromyelitis optica
  • neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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