Brain magnetic resonance (MR) study has shown metabolic abnormalities and changes in water distribution of the brain tissue that may relate to the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy (HE). We designed a study to investigate the disturbances in brain water and metabolites during episodic HE using a 3-T MR scanner. Cirrhotic patients with different grades of HE underwent MR during hospitalization (n=18). The MR was repeated at 6 weeks' follow-up (n=14). The results were compared with those of a group of healthy volunteers (n=8). During episodic HE, brain diffusion-weighted imaging showed a high apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) (12% to 14%) that decreased during follow-up (-1% to-4%). These disturbances were accompanied by high glutamine (581%), low choline (-31%), and low myo-inositol (-86%) peaks on MR spectroscopy. In overt HE, patients showed high glutamine that decreased during follow-up (-22%). In addition, these patients exhibited a rise in plasma S100 beta and enlargement of brain white-matter lesions. In conclusion, several disturbances detected by MR support the presence of impaired brain water homeostasis during episodic HE. Although astrocytes have a major role in this condition, brain edema during episodic HE may be extracellular and does not appear to be directly responsible for the development of neurologic manifestations. © 2013 ISCBFM All rights reserved.
- acute hepatic encephalopathy
- bloodbrain barrier