Cross-Sectional Retrospective Study to Identify Clinical and Radiographic Features Associated With VZV Reactivation in Cryptogenic Stroke Patients With CSF Testing

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Abstract

Background and Purpose: A large proportion of ischemic stroke patients lack a definitive stroke etiology despite extensive diagnostic testing. Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) can directly invade blood vessels causing vasculitis and may be associated with cryptogenic stroke (CS). Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of CS patients tested for VZV. The following were considered evidence of VZV reactivation (VZV+): positive CSF VZV PCR, anti-VZV IgM in CSF, or anti-VZV IgG CSF/serum ratio of 1:10 or higher. We describe the cohort, report VZV+ proportion with 95% confidence intervals (CI) determined with the Wald method, and compare patient groups using standard statistical tests. Results: A total of 72 CS patients met full study inclusion criteria. Most of the patients were <65 years old, had few traditional vascular risk factors, and had multifocal infarcts. Mean age was 49 years (SD ±13) and 47% were women. A total of 14 patients (19.4%; CI: 11.4-30.8%) had evidence of CNS VZV reactivation. There was no difference in evaluated demographic or radiographic features between those with versus without evidence of VZV reactivation. History of ischemic stroke in the past year (11/14 vs 25/43, P<.05) and hypertension (13/14 vs 35/58 and P<.05) were associated with VZV+. Conclusion: We found a high proportion of CNS VZV reactivation in a cross-sectional cohort of CS patients selected for CSF testing. Testing for VZV might be reasonable in CS patients who are young, have multifocal infarcts, or had an ischemic stroke within the past year, but additional research is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeurohospitalist
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • cryptogenic stroke
  • ischemic stroke
  • varicella zoster virus
  • vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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