Severe meningo-/encephalitis after daclizumab therapy for multiple sclerosis

  • Lidia Stork
  • Wolfgang Brück
  • Phillip von Gottberg
  • Ulrich Pulkowski
  • Florian Kirsten
  • Markus Glatzel
  • Sebastian Rauer
  • Franziska Scheibe
  • Helena Radbruch
  • Eckhard Hammer
  • Klarissa H Stürner
  • Barbara Kaulen
  • Christoph Heesen
  • Frank Hoffmann
  • Sebastian Brock
  • Marc Pawlitzki
  • Tobias Bopp
  • Imke Metz


BACKGROUND:: Daclizumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds the high-affinity interleukin-2 receptor and was approved for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis. Due to severe inflammatory brain disorders, the approval was suspended in March 2018.

OBJECTIVE AND METHODS:: This retrospective cohort study summarizes clinical, laboratory, radiological, and histological findings of seven patients who developed meningo-/encephalitis after daclizumab therapy.

RESULTS:: Patients presented with encephalitis and/or meningitis and suffered from systemic symptoms such as fever (5/7), exanthema (5/7), or gastrointestinal symptoms (4/7). Secondary autoimmune diseases developed. Blood analysis revealed an increase in eosinophils (5/7). Six patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed multiple contrast-enhancing lesions, and enhancement of the ependyma (6/7), meninges (5/7), cranial or spinal nerves (2/7), and a vasculitic pattern (3/7). Histology revealed a pronounced inflammatory infiltrate consisting of lymphocytes, plasma cells and eosinophils, and densely infiltrated vessels. Most patients showed an insufficient therapeutic response and a high disability at last follow-up (median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 8). Two patients died.

CONCLUSION:: Meningoencephalitis and DRESS may occur with daclizumab therapy. This potential lethal side effect is characterized by a dysregulated immune response. Our findings underline the importance of postmarketing drug surveillance.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10.2019
PubMed 30657420