The most common type of Autoimmune Encephalitis, anti-NMDA receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis (ANMDARE) which accounts for 20% of cases, was identified in 2005. Even though The California Encephalitis Project 2007-2011 showed this variant of autoimmune encephalitis occurred more commonly than other etiologies of encephalitis such as enterovirus encephalitis, HSV-1, West Nile Virus or Varicella zoster virus (VZV), many Emergency Department physicians are not familiar with it. A new specialty, autoimmune neurology, has evolved for clinicians fascinated with this area of medicine. Emergency Departments do evaluate for encephalitis and meningitis but autoimmune encephalitis often goes unrecognized.
Given that Autoimmune Encephalitis is more common than originally thought, Emergency Department Staff, would be well advised to keep autoimmune encephalitis as a differential diagnosis for patients presenting with acute psychosis or encephalitis. This may be particularly important in patients with new onset psychosis being referred to a psychiatric facility, especially if they presented with any neurological symptoms. Psychiatrists and Emergency Room Physicians are often the first to see these patients, data shows that due to the wide spectrum of initial symptoms in AE patients, the correct diagnosis of these patients is often missed or delayed. Therefore, lumbar puncture should be offered to ALL patients with new onset psychosis as part of the broader evaluation for their mental and physical health.
Autoimmune encephalitis is a treatable disease, and it responds better to early treatment. There are numerous co-hort studies and case reports of patients who demonstrated improvement immediately following immunosuppressant therapy or tumor removal. Studies have found that favorable outcome is associated with early treatment. To learn more about Autoimmune encephalitis masquerading as psychosis/psychiatric illness, we highly recommend Psychiatrists, ER physicians and those learning about these disorders review the research under AE -Psychiatric presentation.
Recent advances in Psychiatry
Growing evidence derived from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), neuropathological, imaging, genetic, and epidemiological studies link neuroinflammation and immune dysregulation to a subset of individuals with a variety of severe mental disorders (SMDs), including affective and non-affective psychotic disorders.
Standard Operating Procedure
This SOP ( From – SOP: antibody-associated autoimmune encephalitis), aims for facilitating the approach to patients with central nervous system symptoms suspicious of AE, for raising awareness of the clinical presentation of such patients, and for proposing the necessary diagnostic and therapeutic steps.
Click to see the full size table of Most important antibodies and clinical syndromes.
Neuroimmunology: Updates and antibody test utilization
Mayo Clinic 2021
As more antibodies in autoimmune encephalitis have been identified and with the increased knowledge about this group of diseases, Sean Pittock, M.D., reviews how Mayo Clinic has updated their antibody panel evaluations (Aug-31-2021) and put them in phenotype-specific categories so more patients will be identified and testing will be more targeted, efficient and more cost effective for the patient. He also discusses the role paraneoplastic testing can play to avoid delays in diagnosing and improving efficiency for the laboratory. Proper utilization of the phenotype-specific test menu improves specificity, offers physicians a definitive diagnosis, and shortens the patient’s journey.
The primary changes to the autoimmune evaluations include complete removal of striational antibodies and anti-calcium channel antibodies. Although N-type calcium channel antibodies sometimes accompany P/Q-type, and can be associated with cancer, it was determined, overall, that including N-type does not add sufficient value. In addition, P/Q-type antibody will only be used in the Lambert-Eaton syndrome and movement disorders evaluations. Alpha-3 ganglionic acetylcholine receptor antibody will be included in the autonomic dysfunction evaluations only.
These updates are being made on a solid foundation of research.
Commercial tests for autoantibodiesto NMDAR, LGI1, Caspr2, AMPAR (GluR1, GluR2 subunits), and GABA-B-R are widely available. Newer cell surface antigens like GABAA-R and DPPX are more difficult to test clinically. Contact Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN to inquire about antibody testing through research resources. It is important to test both the serum and the Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) because of false positives with these antibodies.
Recommended Reading for Clinicians
This book provides a clinical focus on neuroinflammatory diseases as well as a review in pathophysiology and treatment approaches.
Neuroimmunology serves as a resource for those in training including residents and fellows to provide clear clinical reasoning and background in a rapidly advancing field.
- Autoimmune encephalitis: proposed best practice recommendations for diagnosis and acute management- Part 1 of a 2 part paper-2021
- A clinical approach to diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis
- Diagnostic tools for immune Encephalitis-2018
- Antibody-Mediated Encephalitis-2018
- New Treatments for Refractory Cases
- Common Immunotherapies used in CNS disease
- Treatable Immune System Disorder Could Be Mistaken For Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder
- Autoimmune Encephalitis: Current concepts 2017
- AE Treatment Strategies
- The Laboratory Diagnosis of Autoimmune Encephalitis
- Neural Antibody Testing in Patients with Suspected Autoimmune Encephalitis-2020
- The Diagnosis and Treatment of Autoimmune Encephalitis
- Symptoms associated with antibody-mediated Autoimmune Encephalitis
- Encephalopathy with EEG based grading (slide show)
- Encephalopathic EEG Patterns
AI-Driven Antibody Search. Let our AI decode the literature to provide antibody usage data that’s unbiased and experiment-specific
Autoimmune encephalitis: proposed recommendations for symptomatic and long-term management Part 1
Autoimmune encephalitis: proposed best practice recommendations for diagnosis and acute management Part 2
One-Year Functional Status (NEOS) score
AE is refractory to Antipsychotics
Antibody Mediated Psychosis
Treatment of Autoimmune brain disorders
Andrew McKeon, M.B., B.Ch., M.D.,
Mayo Clinic Webinar:
The Spectrum of Autoimmune CNS
Disorders June, 2017
#COVID19 'World vs Virus'
Dr Matt McCarthy, David Duong, Todd Pollack of Harvard and John Rafferty discuss life in lockdown.Clinical Approach to Diagnois of Autoimmune Encephalitis
Dr David Carr
Anti-NMDA receptor Encephalitis
A must know diagnosis for all
emergency medicine practitioners
Autoimmune Encephalitis &
the Role of Antibody Testing
Clinical Approach to Diagnois of Autoimmune Encephalitis