man 29749 960 720 - Glossary


Antibody:  A substance produced by special cells of the body that counteracts the effects of a disease germ or its poisons.

Antigen:  a toxin or other foreign invader that can cause disease.  That triggers an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies. One of the main immune responses is the production of proteins that help to fight off the antigens. These proteins are called antibodies. 

Apoptosis: A form of cell death in which a programmed sequence of events leads to the elimination of cells without releasing harmful substances into the surrounding area. Destroyed.

Atrophy: shrinking, a wasting away, deterioration, no longer function properly

Autoimmune Encephalitis: is an entity that is caused by the auto-antibodies themselves.  The auto-antibodies are made by plasma cells.  These are cells of your immune system.  The plasma cells secrete these antibodies and they target healthy brain cells causing them to malfunction or die. The Body is attacking itself.

Axon: nerve fiber, a long nerve cell that conducts electrical impulses in the brain.

B cell: a type of lymphocyte that produces antibodies, which bind to free-floating microbes circulating in the blood so that they cannot infect other cells

blood-brain barrier:  a tight layer of cells and tissue that separates the brain from the rest of the body; a physical roadblock that normally keeps immune cells outside the brain.

Bradycardia: is a slower than normal heart rate. The heart usually beats between 60 and 100 times a minute in an adult at rest. If you have bradycardia your heart beats fewer than 60 times a minute. is a slower than normal heart rate. Bradycardia is caused by something that disrupts the normal electrical impulses controlling the rate of your heart’s pumping action. There are many things that can cause or contribute to problems with your heart’s electrical system.

CASPR2: (contactin-associated protein 2), an antibody in autoimmune encephalitis. This type of AE is often termed ‘limbic encephalitis’ (LE).

central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord, to which sensory impulses are transmitted and from which motor impulses emanate. The central nervous system supervises and coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system and interacts with the immune system.

Cytoxic:  Cell killing, toxic to cells

Differential diagnosis: The process of weighing the probability of one disease versus that of other diseases possibly accounting for a patient’s illness.  Example:  The differential diagnosis of rhinitis (a runny nose) would be hayfever, the abuse of nasal decongestants and, of course, the common cold.


Dysphagia:       Is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing.  It may be a sensation that suggests difficulty in the passage of solids or liquids from the mouth to the stomach.

Dyskinesia:  refers to a category of movement disorders that are characterized by involuntary muscle movements, including movements similar to tics or chorea and diminished voluntary movements. Dyskinesia can be anything from a slight tremor of the hands to an uncontrollable movement of the upper body or lower extremities. Discoordination can also occur internally especially with the respiratory muscles and it often goes unrecognized.  Dyskinesia is a symptom of several medical disorders that are distinguished by their underlying cause.

GAD65: Glutamic acid decarbonxyase-auto-antibody, the pancreases needs GAD to function normally, so it is in the body but may accidentally change to attack brain cells, 70 % of people with diabetes have GAD  antibodies in their blood.

Glial cells: a cell in the nervous system that provides support and protection of neurons (nerve cells that conduct electrical impulses).

Hemodynamic instability:  is a term used to indicate abnormal or unstable blood pressure and can suggest inadequate arterial blood flow to organs. It can also refer to a state in which pharmacological or mechanical support is necessary to maintain adequate cardiac output or blood pressure.

Hypertension: is high blood pressure.  Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as it flows through them.  Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart the to the body’s tissues.

Hyperthermia:  is elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation that occurs when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates. Extreme temperature elevation then becomes a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to prevent disability or death.

Hypotension:  Low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure is much lower than normal. This means the heart, brain, and other parts of the body do not get enough blood. Normal blood pressure is usually between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mm.

Hypothermia:  is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).

Hypoventilation:   is a condition that arises when air entering the alveoli, small air sacs in the lungs that are the site of respiratory gas exchange, is reduced. This causes levels of oxygen to decrease and the levels of carbon dioxide to increase. Hypoventilation may occur when breathing is too slow or shallow and is usually secondary to or a consequence of other medical conditions.

Immunoprecipitation: (IP) is the technique of precipitating a protein antigen out of solution using an antibody that specifically binds to that particular protein. This process can be used to isolate and concentrate a particular protein from a sample containing many thousands of different proteins.  

Immunosuppressive: describes a treatment that suppresses natural immune responses

Innate Immune System: provides immediate defense against infection.

IVIG: intravenous(given by an IV, in a vein) immunoglobulin (proteins and cells in the blood that function as antibodies)

Lymphocyte: a type of white blood cell involved in the human body’s immune system, of which there are two broad categories, T cells and B cells. Lymphocytes are an integral part of the body’s defenses because they are highly specific for antigens associated with microbes, tumor cells, transplants, allergies, and tissues attacked in autoimmune diseases. The immune system comprises clones of lymphocytes, each with a single specificity, and exposure to antigens leads to clonal expansion, the acquisition of helper and killer functions, and formation of immune memory.

Metagenomic deep sequencing:  inventories nucleic acids present in laboratory stocks, providing an unbiased assessment of pathogen identity, the extent of genomic variation, and the presence of contaminants.

Myalgia:  the prefix my(o)-, which means ‘muscle’, and the suffix -algia, which refers to pain or a painful condition. Muscular pain or ache in a muscle which may be the result of injury, inflammation, overuse or inappropriate activity.

Myelin: fatty rich system that surrounds nerve cells, insulates them  and increases the rate of electrical impulses along the axon ( nerve fiber).

Neurotransmitter:  chemical substance released by brain cells that helps transfer an electrical impulse from one brain cell to another.

NMDAr:  N-methyl D asparate receptor- a glutamate receptor(primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain) it is a neurotransmitter found in the synapses of the central  nervous system.

Pathogenic:  Capability of an agent to cause disease to its host.

Psychomotor agitation:  is a set of signs and symptoms that stem from mental tension and anxiety. The signs are unintentional and purposeless motions; the symptoms are emotional distress and restlessness. Typical Symptoms may take the form of restlessness, tapping fingers or feet, abruptly starting and stopping tasks, rapid talking, racing thoughts and ideas, meaninglessly moving objects around, include pacing around a room, wringing the hands, uncontrolled tongue movement, pulling off clothing and putting it back on, and other similar actions. In more severe cases, the motions may become harmful to the individual, such as ripping, tearing, or chewing at the skin around one’s fingernails, lips, or other body parts to the point of bleeding. Psychomotor agitation is typically found in major depressive disorder or obsessive, and sometimes the manic phase in bipolar disorder.

Synapses: specialized junctions at which cells of the nervous system signal to one another and to nonneuronal cells, such as those of muscles and glands.

T cell: a type of lymphocyte that possesses highly specific cell-surface antigen receptors; types include CD4+ helper T cells, regulatory T cells, and killer T cells

Tachycardia:  abnormally rapid heart rate, usually taken to be over 100 beats per minutes.

Voltage-gated potassium channels (VGKCs):  are transmembrane channels specific for potassium and sensitive to voltage changes in the cell’s membrane potential. During action potentials, they play a crucial role in returning the depolarized cell to a resting state.

White blood cells: any of the blood cells that are colorless, lack hemoglobin, and contain a nucleus. They include the lymphocytes, dendritic cells, monocytes, neutrophils, eocinophils, and basophils; also called leukocytes.

Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.




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