Background: The onset of anthelmintic treatment of neurocysticercosis (NCC) provokes an acute immune response of the host, which in human cases is associated with exacerbation of neurological symptoms. This inflammation can occur at the first days of therapy. So, changes in the brain cysts appearance may be detected by medical imaging. We evaluated radiological changes in the appearance of brain cysts (enhancement and size) on days two and five after the onset of antiparasitic treatment using naturally infected pigs as a model for human NCC. Methods and results: Contrast T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium was performed before and after antiparasitic treatment. Eight NCC-infected pigs were treated with praziquantel plus albendazole and euthanized two (n = 4) and five (n = 4) days after treatment; another group of four infected pigs served as untreated controls. For each lesion, gadolinium enhancement intensity (GEI) and cyst volume were measured at baseline and after antiparasitic treatment. Volume and GEI quantification ratios (post/pre-treatment measures) were used to appraise the effect of treatment. Cysts from untreated pigs showed little variations between their basal and post treatment measures. At days 2 and 5 there were significant increases in GEI ratio compared with the untreated group (1.32 and 1.47 vs 1.01, p = 0.021 and p = 0.021). Cyst volume ratios were significantly lower at days 2 and 5 compared with the untreated group (0.60 and 0.22 vs 0.95, p = 0.04 and p = 0.02). Cysts with lower cyst volume ratios showed more marked post-treatment inflammation, loss of vesicular fluid and cyst wall wrinkling. Conclusion/Significance: A significant and drastic reduction of cyst size and increased pericystic enhancement occur in the initial days after antiparasitic treatment as an effect of acute perilesional immune response. These significant changes showed that early anthelmintic efficacy (day two) can be detected using magnetic resonance imaging.
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