What is PML in MS?

Asked By: Lane Donicht | Last Updated: 31st January, 2020
Category: medical health substance abuse
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Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare viral disease of the brain. Like multiple sclerosis, PML damages nerves by demyelination, and causes some similar symptoms, such as weakness, visual problems, impaired speech and cognitive problems.

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Similarly one may ask, what are the first signs of PML?

These symptoms include:

  • general weakness that steadily gets worse.
  • clumsiness and balance issues.
  • sensory loss.
  • difficulty using your arms and legs.
  • changes to vision.
  • loss of language skills.
  • facial drooping.
  • personality changes.

Furthermore, which MS drugs can cause PML? Other immunosuppressive MS medications, including Gilenya (fingolimod), Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) may increase the risk as well.

Correspondingly, how long do you live with PML?

People diagnosed with PML lived an average of 6 months, and most died within 2 years. However, if people with PML start taking strong antiretroviral medications (ARVs) to control their HIV, they can survive much longer. Now more than half of people with HIV and PML survive for at least two years.

Is PML always fatal?

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a disease that attacks part of your brain. PML is a very serious illness that can be fatal. It's caused by a virus called the JC virus. Most adults carry it, and it usually doesn't cause any health problems.

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What happens if you get PML?

Like multiple sclerosis, PML damages nerves by demyelination, and causes some similar symptoms, such as weakness, visual problems, impaired speech and cognitive problems. If left untreated, PML can quickly become very serious, and often fatal. Even if it is caught early, it can cause severe and permanent disability.

How do they test for PML?

Diagnostic testing may include: Blood test: A sample of blood can reveal that you have JC virus antibodies. Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): A sample of your spinal fluid may also contain JC virus antibodies, which can aid in the diagnosis. Imaging tests:MRI or CT scans can detect lesions in the white matter in the brain.

Is PML reversible?

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and reversible progressive leukoencephalopathy syndrome in dermatologic therapy. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a frequently fatal demyelinating disease of the brain caused by activation of the John Cunningham virus.

Is there a treatment for PML?

"There is no treatment for PML at present, other than removing any treatment that might be causing the immune-suppressed state, and the condition is often fatal," lead author of one of the reports, Irene Cortese, MD, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News.

What is PML caused by?


Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is caused by the John Cunningham, or JC, virus. Most adults carry it, and it usually doesn't cause any health problems. But it can wreak havoc if you have a weak immune system -- that is, if your body's natural defenses against illness aren't working right.

Is the JC virus contagious?

The mode of transmission of this virus is unknown; no acute disease has been associated with infection. The presence of JC virus DNA in tonsillar tissue and the frequency with which viruses are spread by the ororespiratory route suggests that JC virus is transmitted by these fluids.

How do you prevent PML?

It is unclear how the JC virus is transmitted, so currently there are no ways to prevent infection. However, the best way to prevent PML disease is by keeping the immune system healthy. This includes starting HIV treatment before the immune system becomes impaired.

What does PML look like on MRI?

On CT scan, the lesions of PML exhibit no mass effect and infrequently contrast enhance. A “scalloped” appearance beneath the cortex is noted when there is involvement of the subcortical arcuate fibers. Cranial MRI is far more sensitive to the presence of the white matter lesions of PML than CT scan.

What does PML mean in medical terms?

progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

How do you get the JC virus?


The JC virus can be activated when a person's immune system is compromised because of disease or immunosuppressive medication. The virus can then be carried into the brain.

How many cases of PML with Tysabri?

Since July 2006 (when marketing resumed) through January 21, 2010, there have been 31 confirmed cases of PML worldwide in patients using Tysabri.

What are the symptoms of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy?

What are the symptoms of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)?
  • Clumsiness or loss of coordination.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Facial drooping.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Personality changes.
  • Trouble speaking.
  • Weak muscles.

What is JCV antibody?

It is caused by the John Cunningham virus (JCV), a common virus usually kept under control by the immune system. But people with weakened immune systems, or on immunosuppressive drugs, are more susceptible to JCV-related problems. The level of antibodies is a marker for exposure to JCV and therefore the risk for PML.

Does PML cause headaches?

Progressive multifocal encephalopathy (PML) is a rare demyelinating disease that typically presents in immunodeficient patients. We report a case of a previously healthy 62-Year-Old woman who suffered from an unsteady gait, throbbing headaches, and progressive left-sided weakness and numbness.

How many people have PML?


Altogether, PML occurs in approximately one in 200,000 people. Each year, it is estimated that 4000 people develop PML in the United States and Europe combined. The term "progressive" in PML means that the disease continues to get worse and often leads to serious brain damage.

How do you treat JC virus?

Medicines that might lead to the development of PML in people with the JC virus include:
  1. cyclophosphamide.
  2. corticosteroids.
  3. mycophenolate mofetil.
  4. monoclonal antibodies, such as natalizumab (Tysabri), rituximab (Mabthera), and alemtuzumab (MabCampath, Lemtrada)

How common is progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy?

About 1 person out of every 200,000 will get PML. That works out to a total of about 4,000 people per year in the United States and Europe combined. SOURCES: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy."