Cerebral glucose utilisation in hepatitis C virus infection-associated encephalopathy

Meike Heeren, Karin Weissenborn*, Dimitrios Arvanitis, Martin Bokemeyer, Annemarie Goldbecker, Argyro Tountopoulou, Thomas Peschel, Julian Grosskreutz, Hartmut Hecker, Ralph Buchert, Georg Berding

*Corresponding author for this work
32 Citations (Scopus)


Patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection frequently show neuropsychiatric symptoms. This study aims to help clarify the neurochemical mechanisms behind these symptoms and to add further proof to the hypothesis that HCV may affect brain function. Therefore, 15 patients who reported increasing chronic fatigue, mood alterations, and/or cognitive decline since their HCV infection underwent neurologic and neuropsychological examination, magnetic resonance imaging, 18 F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose positron emission tomography of the brain, and single photon emission tomography of striatal dopamine and midbrain serotonin transporter (SERT) availability. None of the patients had liver cirrhosis. Patients data were compared with data of age-matched controls. In addition, regression analysis was performed between cognitive deficits, and mood and fatigue scores as dependent variables, and cerebral glucose metabolism, dopamine, or SERT availability as predictors. Patients showed significant cognitive deficits, significantly decreased striatal dopamine and midbrain SERT availability, and significantly reduced glucose metabolism in the limbic association cortex, and in the frontal, parietal, and superior temporal cortices, all of which correlated with dopamine transporter availability and psychometric results. Thus, the study provides further evidence of central nervous system affection in HCV-afflicted patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms. Data indicate alteration of dopaminergic neurotransmission as a possible mechanism of cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2199-2208
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 11.2011
Externally publishedYes

Research Areas and Centers

  • Centers: Center for Neuromuscular Diseases


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