|Low Power: Marked white matter pallor|
|High Power: White matter virtually replaced by lipidized macrophages|
|LFB stain on left and neurofilament stain on right|
Toxic leukoencephalopathy can be caused by a range of insults including radiation, chemotherapy, and drugs of abuse. Among the drugs of abuse that have been shown to cause toxic leukoencephalopathy are toluene, ethanol, cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, intravenous heroin, inhaled heroin pyrolysate, and psilocybin (Ref: Filley & Kleinschmidt-DeMasters NEJM 2001). Toxic spongiform leukoencephalopathy is a clinicopathologic entity first associated with the inhalation of pyrolysate heroin vapors, a practice which had its origins in Hong Kong in the 1950's and which came to be known colloquially as "chasing the dragon". Users typically "chase the dragon" by placing heroin on a creased piece of tin foil over a flame. As the drug sublimates, the user inhales the fumes. The pathophysiology of this form of leukoencephalopathy has not been clearly elucidated, but is thought to be related to a direct toxic effect of heroin on oligodendrocytes.