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An unexpectedly high occurrence of aciclovir-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients treated for herpesvirus CNS infection: a prospective observational study.

Journal article
Authors Johan Lindström
Anders Helldén
Jan Lycke
Anna Grahn
Marie Studahl
Published in The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
Volume 74
Issue 12
Pages 3565–3572
ISSN 1460-2091
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 3565–3572
Language en
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Aciclovir is effective in herpesvirus infections of the CNS. Aciclovir-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms (AINS) have been reported and are associated with high CSF concentrations of aciclovir metabolite 9-carboxymethoxymethylguanine (CMMG). Risk factors except for renal failure have not been explored, and disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in acute CNS infection may be of interest.To investigate the impact of risk factors on aciclovir and CMMG concentrations, and to relate the results to AINS.We investigated 21 consecutively included, consenting patients treated with aciclovir or valaciclovir for herpesvirus CNS infection. Regression models were constructed to study the impact of risk factors including BBB disruption, as measured with CSF:serum albumin ratio, on CSF aciclovir and CMMG concentrations. Medical records were assessed retrospectively to identify patients with AINS.Increased CSF:serum albumin ratio, as well as decreased renal function and high aciclovir doses, was associated with increased aciclovir and CMMG concentrations in the CSF. We identified five patients with new neuropsychiatric symptoms; four of those were considered to have AINS and had increased CSF CMMG concentrations. Only one patient without suspicion of AINS had an increased CSF CMMG concentration.In patients with herpesvirus CNS infections, BBB disruption is associated with increasing aciclovir and CMMG CSF concentrations. We also found an unexpectedly high number of patients with AINS. Evaluation of CSF:serum albumin ratios, renal function and CSF concentrations of aciclovir and CMMG may all contribute to the optimization of aciclovir dosing and avoidance of AINS.

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