An atypical form of parkinsonism has been described in patients with chronic liver disease, associated with increased T1 signal in the basal ganglia on magnetic resonance imaging. The magnetic resonance imaging signal changes are characteristic of manganese accumulation, which has been neuropathologically confirmed. Manganese neurotoxicity may result in additional neurologic findings besides parkinsonism.
To fully characterize patients with chronic central nervous system symptoms and chronic liver failure associated with basal ganglia T1 hyperintensity.
Prospective and retrospective case study.
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Eight patients referred for neurologic evaluation and studied prospectively, and 7 additional retrospectively identified patients who had been examined by Mayo Clinic neurologists.
Main Outcome Measures
Neurologic syndromes identified.
Three syndromes were recognized in these 15 patients with liver failure and basal ganglia T1 hyperintensity on magnetic resonance imaging: (1) isolated parkinsonism, (2) gait ataxia plus other neurologic findings (ataxia-plus), and (3) cognitive impairment with psychiatric features. All but 1 patient had elevated blood manganese levels. Ammonia levels were normal in most, and the neurologic syndromes did not appear to reflect the well-known toxic-metabolic encephalopathy of liver disease.
Chronic liver failure may result in heterogeneous neurologic syndromes that cut across a variety of liver diseases. We selected cases on the basis of evidence of brain manganese accumulation, and this may be a crucial component of these syndromes. Further studies are necessary to explore this issue.