<%server.execute "isdev.asp"%> Intracranial hypertension: A rare presentation of lupus nephritis Yadav P, Nair A, Cherian A, Sibi N S, Kumar A - J Pediatr Neurosci
home : about us : ahead of print : current issue : archives search instructions : subscriptionLogin 
Users online: 234      Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

  Table of Contents    
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 132-134

Intracranial hypertension: A rare presentation of lupus nephritis

Department of General Medicine, Medical College, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication24-Jan-2011

Correspondence Address:
Ajith Cherian
Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1817-1745.76111

Rights and Permissions



A 14-year-old male presented with bilateral papilledema, growth retardation and absent secondary sexual characters. He had a past history of fever, headache and fatigue of 6 months duration. The diagnosis of intracranial hypertension (IH) was confirmed by an increased intracranial pressure and normal neuroimaging studies of the brain, except for partial empty sella, prominent perioptic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces and buckling of optic nerves. Evaluation showed erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) of 150 mm/hr, positive antinuclear antibody (ANA), anti dsDNA and anti ribosomal P protein. Renal biopsy revealed diffuse segmental proliferative lupus nephritis (LN) class IV S (A) confirming the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Treatment of LN with intravenous pulse methyl prednisolone and cyclophosphamide was effective in normalizing the CSF pressure, resulting in express and dramatic resolution of symptomatology. In a case of IH, SLE must be considered. IH, growth retardation and absence of sexual characters may be presenting manifestations of a chronic systemic inflammatory disease like SLE. These manifestations may act as a pointer to associated advanced grades of LN, which can be totally asymptomatic and missed without a renal biopsy.

Keywords: Anti dsDNA, anti ribosomal P protein, lupus nephritis, pseudotumor cerebri, systemic lupus erythematosus

How to cite this article:
Yadav P, Nair A, Cherian A, Sibi N S, Kumar A. Intracranial hypertension: A rare presentation of lupus nephritis. J Pediatr Neurosci 2010;5:132-4

How to cite this URL:
Yadav P, Nair A, Cherian A, Sibi N S, Kumar A. Intracranial hypertension: A rare presentation of lupus nephritis. J Pediatr Neurosci [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 5];5:132-4. Available from: https://www.pediatricneurosciences.com/text.asp?2010/5/2/132/76111

   Introduction Top

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by diverse manifestations encompassing almost all organ systems. Neuropsychiatric lupus may range from subtle cognitive or behavioral disorders to coma and death. [1] Intracranial hypertension (IH) is included among the rare neuropsychiatric manifestations of SLE. [2],[3],[4] We discuss here a case of a 14-year-old boy who presented with features of IH and short stature, and on evaluation was found to have SLE and lupus nephritis (LN).

   Case Report Top

A 14-year-old boy presented with 6-month duration of fever, headache and vomiting which persisted despite the use of analgesics. He was diagnosed to have hypothyroidism 4 months back for which he was on replacement thyroxine and was currently in euthyroid status. His height and weight were two standard deviations below reference. There was no history of blurring of vision, diplopia, seizures, behavioral abnormalities, arthritis, skin lesions, photosensitivity or reduction in urine output. On examination, he was febrile, had pallor, oral ulcers and absent secondary sexual characteristics. His blood pressure was normal. Neurological examination was unremarkable except for the presence of bilateral papilledema. Visual acuity was normal, but perimetry revealed bilateral concentric field constriction. Fluorescin angiography showed an increased hyperfluroscence extending beyond disc margins, confirming the diagnosis of papilledema. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of brain showed characteristic features of IH with partial empty sella [Figure 1], prominent perioptic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces, and buckling of optic nerves. [5] MR venogram showed no evidence of sinus thrombosis. CSF tap showed an opening pressure of 270 mm with a normal composition.
Figure 1 :T1 sagittal magnetic resonance imaging showing reduced size of anterior pituitary gland (arrow)

Click here to view

Laboratory investigations revealed microcytic hypochromic anemia, WBC count of 9110 with mild eosinophilia and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) of 150 mm/hr. Since he was an atypical patient for developing IH, he was further evaluated. Urine routine examination showed presence of albumin (+), and granular casts. Liver and renal function tests were within normal limits. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) was positive with an index of 22.7 (negative <1.4), anti dsDNA was positive at 57.67 IU/mL (negative <20 IU/mL), anti ribosomal P protein was strongly positive (+++) and anti-La antibody (SS-B) ++ positive. Serum complement levels of both C3 and C4 were low. C-reactive protein was elevated at 1.2 mg/dL (normal = 0.2-0.6 mg/dL). Anticardiolipin and lupus anticoagulant antibodies were negative. Anti neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (both c-ANCA and p-ANCA), HbsAg, HIV, anti hepatitis C virus (anti HCV) and venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL)tests were negative. Ultrasound abdomen and echocardiography examinations were normal. Hormone estimations showed normal growth hormone, leutinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and thyroid hormone levels. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) of the thyroid gland revealed lymphocytic thyroiditis. Antithyroid peroxidase antibody level was normal.

Thus, a diagnosis of SLE with IH and lymphocytic thyroiditis was made. He was treated with pulse methylprednisolone for five consecutive days. His fever disappeared, headache subsided, and papilledema decreased in the first week of treatment. Renal biopsy showed diffuse segmental proliferative LN grade IV S(A) with an activity index of 4.5/24 and a chronicity index of 0/12. He was given intravenous cyclophosphamide pulse therapy of 750 mg which was continued on monthly basis for 6 months along with daily oral steroids. At 4-week follow-up, he had become totally asymptomatic attaining clinical remission with disappearance of papilledema, and his ESR and anti dsDNA levels normalized. His steroids were subsequently tapered.

   Discussion Top

The syndrome of IH without structural brain or CSF abnormalities and without identifiable cause, now most appropriately termed idiopathic intracranial hypertension, was described over a century ago. While investigating the cause of IH in an atypical patient (non obese young male), we stumbled across a positive ANA and anti dsDNA titers, thus bringing the possibility of SLE in the diagnostic picture. The serum complements were reduced with a mild elevation of C-reactive protein, pointing toward a disease flare that prompted us for a renal biopsy which showed a class IV S (A) LN. He satisfied 4 out of 11 of the revised American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for SLE.

IH has been described as one of the neuropsychiatric syndromes in SLE. Till date, approximately 25 adults and children manifesting IH in association with SLE have been reported. [1],[2],[3],[4],[6],[7],[8] There have been only a few reported pediatric cases in whom IH was the initial presenting sign of SLE, [4],[8] as in our patient. The association of SLE and IH is still unclear. The proposed mechanisms include immune-mediated injury within the arachnoid villi and consequent reduction in CSF absorption or probable hypercoagulable state without overt vascular thrombosis giving rise to micro-obliteration of cerebral arteriolar and venous systems. [2],[7],[9] Steroid withdrawal in the treatment of the SLE may be a predisposing or precipitating factor in the development of IH in patients. [10] In a review of 127 patients with LN over 11 years, six patients had IH, which gave a disease prevalence of 4.7% in those with LN. Young females with serologically active lupus, severe forms of renal lesions, past history of venous or arterial thrombosis and laboratory evidences of procoagulant activity appear to be at increased risk of IH. [11]

In our patient, the antiphospholipid antibody workup was negative. Growth retardation and absence of secondary sexual characters is well described in SLE, which could be due to chronic systemic inflammatory response leading to end organ unresponsiveness (as in our patient), or associated hypopituitarism due to antiphospholipid antibody (APLA)syndrome, lymphocytic hypophysitis and chronic IH.

Anti ribosomal P protein was found to be strongly positive in our patient. It is usually associated with neuropsychiatric manifestations of SLE and LN as do high titers of anti dsDNA as seen in this case. [12]

Treatment strategy for class IV LN with intravenous pulse methyl prednisolone and cyclophosphamide was effective in normalizing the CSF pressure without the use of acetozolamide or other diuretics, giving an indirect clue that IH in SLE is immune mediated. Maintenance therapy can be achieved on oral steroids, mycophenolate mofetil or azathioprine.

In conclusion, IH can be the only presenting manifestation of SLE. Silent LN can coexist and requires enthusiastic workup, which includes a renal biopsy.

   References Top

1.Quintero-Del-Rio AI, Miller V. Neurologic symptoms in children with systemic lupus erythematosus. J Child Neurol 2000;15:803-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Green L, Vinker S, Amital H, Amir T, Bar-Dayan Y, Levi Y, et al. Pseudotumor cerebri in systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum 1995;25:103-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Sbeiti S, Kayed DM, Majuri H. Pseudotumor cerebri presentation of systemic lupus erythematosus: more than an association. Rheumatology 2003;42:808-10.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Padeh S, Passwell JH. Systemic lupus erythematosus presenting as idiopathic intracranial hypertension. J Rheumatol 1996;23:1266-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Hassan H, Das A, Baheti NN, Radhakrishnan A. Teaching NeuroImages: idiopathic intracranial hypertension: MRI features. Neurology 2010;74:24.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Bettman JW, Daroff RB, Sanders MD, Joyt WF. Papilledema and asymptomatic intracranial hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus. A fluoresceinangiographic study of resolving papilloedema. Arch Ophthalmol 1968;80:189-93.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Horoshovski D, Amital H, Katz M, Shoenfeld Y.Pseudotumor cerebri in SLE. Clin Rheumatol 1995;14:708-10.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.DelGiudice GC, Scher CA, Athreya BH, Diamond GR. Pseudotumor cerebri and childhood systemic lupus erythematosus. J Rheumatol 1986;13:748-52.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Parnass SM, Goodwin JA, Patel DV, Levinson DJ, Reinhard JD. Dural sinus thrombosis: A mechanism for pseudotumor cerebri in systemic lupus erythematosus. J Rheumatol 1987;14:152-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Dave S, Longmuir R, Shah VA, Wall M, Lee AG. Intracranial hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Ophthalmol 2008;23:127-33.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Nampoory MR, Johny KV, Gupta RK, Constandi JN, Nair MP, al-Muzeiri I. Treatable intracranial hypertension in patients with lupus nephritis. Lupus 1997;6:597-602.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Renal and neuropsychiatric manifestations in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and ribosomal P protein auto antibodies. Rev Colomb Reumatol; 2006. p.198-205.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension and Multiple Sclerosis
Stephanie Figueira, Anthony Thompson, Nickolas Garson, Kathleen Wood, Brooke Hartenstein, Charles Maitland
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. 2021; 50: 102829
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension - the importance of excluding secondary causes: A systematic review
Kubra Kilic, Johanne Juhl Korsbæk, Rigmor H Jensen, Vlasta Vukovic Cvetkovic
Cephalalgia. 2021; : 0333102421
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Pseudotumor cerebri in children - The predisposition to iatrogenic Pseudotumor cerebri in children - From suscetibility to iatrogeny [Pseudotumor cerebri na criança - Da predisposição à iatrogenia Pseudotumor cerebri in children - From suscetibility to iatrogeny]
Margatho, M. and Pereira, C. and Robalo, C. and Fineza, I.
Sinapse. 2013; 13(1): 34-38
4 Intracranial hypertension associated with systemic lupus erythematosus in a young male patient
Tse, C. and Klein, R.
Lupus. 2013; 22(2): 205-212


Print this article  Email this article
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (322 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded237    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal