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Cognition in autoimmune encephalitis

Cognition in autoimmune encephalitis


August 31, 2022 | Written by Sarah Griffith. Edited by Dr Mastura Monif, Ms Tiffany Rushen, Dr Loretta Piccenna, Ms Amanda Wells (consumer representative) and Ms Sasha Ermichina (consumer representative)

A message from IAES Blog Staff:

It is our honor and pleasure to present to all of you an overview of how autoimmune encephalitis can affect cognitive abilities. This overview is by the esteemed team at Monash University in Australia & lead by Dr. Mastura Monif, who is a member of IAES’ Medical Advisory Board.

We are proud to be in collaboration with Dr. Monif and her team in the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium Project as we work closely with them to best support AE patients, caregivers and their families. This blog has been facilitated by IAES Support Services coordinator Mari Wagner Davis, with input from IAES volunteers Sasha Ermichina (impacted by GFAP AE) and Amanda Wells (caregiver for her daughter with AE). These IAES representatives provide input from their unique perspectives, helping to educate researchers in the difficulties that patients and families face.

You can find out more about the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium and their efforts to help those with AE and their families via the following link:

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/autoimmune-encephalitis

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Cognition in Autoimmune Encephalitis – Summary

Source – Griffith, S., Wesselingh, R., Broadley, J., O’Shea, M., Kyndt, C., Meade, C., Long, B., Seneviratne, U., Reidy, N., Bourke, R., Buzzard, K., D’Souza, W., Macdonell, R., Brodtmann, A., Butzkueven, H., O’Brien, T. J., Alpitsis, R., Malpas, C. B., Monif, M., & Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium (2022). Psychometric deficits in autoimmune encephalitis: A retrospective study from the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium. European journal of neurology, 10.1111/ene.15367. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/ene.15367

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Background

Autoimmune Encephalitis is a rare disease that affects different regions of the brain. Patients with this condition can have a variety of cognitive symptoms (for example, memory deficits, slow speed of information processing, attention lapses, word finding difficulties, trouble with following complex commands, difficulties in judgement, difficulties in comprehension of complex tasks, difficulties in forming new memories, and difficulties in understanding tasks or situations). These symptoms can change from one individual to another individual, and can fluctuate over the course of the illness. Also different types of autoimmune encephalitis can have differing presentation of the above symptoms.

Historically (and to this day) clinicians and researchers have used a scale called the modified Rankin Score as a tool to monitor an individual’s function – i.e. how independently they can function in their day to day life. However, this scale is very inaccurate and it does not capture complex and specific issues that might be troublesome for the patient. The modified Rankin Scale also does not reflect the gravity of the individual’s symptoms and does not provide in detail information about specific symptoms and complaints that the individual with autoimmune encephalitis might be experiencing. Importantly, the scale does not measure behavioural, mood or cognitive outcomes in autoimmune encephalitis. Cognitive changes can be associated with long term disease related morbidity and can reduce quality of life. Therefore we set out to gain a better understanding of the cognitive difficulties in autoimmune encephalitis.

 What did the researchers do?

We gathered cognitive data from patients previously diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis (retrospective data) from six hospitals in Victoria (Australia) to inform the analysis. Patients were identified retrospectively through medical records with a search for diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis with a hospital admission between July 2008 and July 2019. Patients who met this criteria participated in a neuropsychology assessment of their cognitive function (i.e., memory, attention, language, judgement, planning, comprehension, and recall. We collected clinical data about each patient and also information of various clinical investigations (i.e. lumbar puncture results and MRI).

 

What did the researchers find?

The average age of patients at diagnosis was 49 years old and more than half showing as seropositive autoimmune encephalitis (meaning they had identifiable antibodies in their blood or their cerebrospinal fluid). Of the seropositive group:

  • nine patients had anti-NMDAR antibodies,
  • nine anti-Leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 antibodies (LGI-1),
  • seven Voltage-gated potassium channel complex antibodies (unspecified) (VGKC),
  • three glutamic acid decarboxylase 65- (GAD65) one α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor antibodies (AMPA),
  • one γ-aminobutyric acid B antibodies (GABA-Band), and
  • one collapsin response mediator protein 5 antibodies (CRMP5).

Forty two percent of patients had impairments on executive function tests (e.g. a set of tasks that includes working memory, planning, flexible thinking, and ability to remember multiple instructions, and capacity for self-regulation and ordering or prioritizing of tasks). The next most common impairment was on memory tests (e.g. the mental processes involved in acquiring, retaining and recalling information; 40.7% of patients).

For the first-time, we found 29 patterns of cognition among patients with autoimmune encephalitis in our analysis. The four most common patterns of cognition were:

  • Intact cognition (no cognitive deficits elicited),
  • Isolated memory deficits,
  • Executive dysfunction with memory impairment (combination pattern), and
  • Isolated visuospatial/visuoconstructional impairments (referring to visual or spatial perception of objects.

But, given we found 29 patterns means that cognitive outcomes in patients with autoimmune encephalitis are complex and need further detailed investigation.

What do these findings mean?

Our research highlighted that more detailed and systematic analysis of memory and executive function profiles in patients with autoimmune encephalitis is required. Impairments in memory and executive dysfunction can have huge implications for the patient and their caregivers, and tools that would better characterise and follow these symptoms in autoimmune encephalitis are needed. Understanding memory and executive function impairment in autoimmune encephalitis can help us in devising strategies that would assist patients with day to day function, but also monitor disease trajectory over time and delineate patient’s response to treatment. 

We could not predict good cognitive outcome (e.g. having ‘intact’ cognition after autoimmune encephalitis) in patients. We recommend clinicians provide ongoing comprehensive cognitive monitoring in patients with autoimmune encephalitis, and reactive intervention when required. An individualised approach will assist in the management the long-term morbidity of this disease, to minimise the effect on the individual’s quality of life and any damaging psychological outcomes.

 

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To download a plain language PDF of the paper summarized in this blog, click the button below:

 

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On June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org  

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE.   Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Cognition in autoimmune encephalitis For this interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.   AE Warrior Store 300x200 - Cognition in autoimmune encephalitis

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

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Cognition in autoimmune encephalitis

Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis


July 27, 2022 | by
 Dr. Robb Wesselingh

A message from IAES Blog Staff:

It is our honor & pleasure to present to all of you an overview of the use of an Electroencephalogram or EEG for diagnosis and prediction in the treatment of Autoimmune Encephalitis by the esteemed team at Monash University in Australia & lead by Dr. Mastura Monif. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is proud to be in collaboration with Dr. Monif and her team in the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium Project. Dr. Monif is on the board of directors for IAES and we work closely with them to best support AE patients, caregivers and their families. You can find out more about the team and their efforts to help those with AE and their families via the following link:

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/autoimmune-encephalitis

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Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis

Publication:

R Wesselingh, J Broadley, K Buzzard, D Tarlinton, U Seneviratne, C Kyndt, J Stankovich, P Sanfilippo, C Nesbitt, W D’Souza, R Macdonell, H Butzkueven, TJ O’Brien, M Monif, Electroclinical biomarkers of autoimmune encephalitis, Epilepsy & Behaviour, 2022;128: 108571. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2022.108571

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Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) is a brain inflammation disorder caused by antibodies. A person’s immune system mistakenly targets different proteins in their brain causing damage and inflammation. This can result in different neurological symptoms including seizures (sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain) and memory problems. Autoimmune encephalitis can be classified into different subtypes based on the brain protein targeted by the antibodies produced. The most common subtypes are anti-NMDAR autoimmune encephalitis, anti-LGI-1 autoimmune encephalitis and seronegative autoimmune encephalitis (in which there is no identified antibody). While treatment is effective and available, the diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis is not straightforward. Also, knowing which patients need more intensive treatment is tricky.

Patients thought to have autoimmune encephalitis usually have a few clinical tests to confirm the diagnosis. They include brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an electroencephalogram (EEG), and blood or cerebrospinal fluid tests to analyse the presence of inflammation. The EEG is a procedure that measures brain electrical activity (brain waves) by using electrodes placed on the scalp. It can show different patterns or irregularities depending on the person’s health state. For example, an EEG can show seizure activity, or it can indicate drowsy or comatose states. In some situations, it can also show very subtle changes that could be useful in our understanding of autoimmune encephalitis and guiding management. It is important for patients with suspected autoimmune encephalitis to have a diagnosis as soon as possible because earlier treatment leads to better long-term recovery. But doing multiple clinical tests takes time, some can be invasive or may only be available in certain centres. For this research, we wanted to find out answers to following –

  1. Can we use an EEG to identify different types of Autoimmune Encephalitis?
  2. In the early part the disorder, can the EEG tell us about a person’s likely course in the long-term (outcomes)?

How we did this work

We looked through the medical records of seven hospitals in Victoria, Australia for people who had possible autoimmune encephalitis and had an EEG when they first became unwell. Overall, 208 patients were identified and selected for our analysis. We collected data from 131 patients of their symptoms, seizures, treatment, and their ability to return to normal day-to-day living. Key clinical characteristics of the patients can be seen below:

monash eegpng - Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis

We analysed EEGs from patients to find any brain wave irregularities or signatures (called biomarkers) that would show different subtypes of autoimmune encephalitis. Other EEGs were analysed that could predict which patients might have impaired functional outcomes in the long term.

What were the interesting things we found

  • We identified four specific brain wave signatures or biomarkers that were associated with one type of autoimmune encephalitis called anti-NMDAR autoimmune encephalitis.
  • We also found a disruption of the normal electrical activity of the brain that was more common in patients who had significant functional disability on discharge from hospital.
  • Large spikes of abnormal electrical activity called periodic discharges were seen in patients who ended up having long-term impacts on their day-to-day functioning.

What do these findings mean?

The brain wave signatures or biomarkers we identified can be useful for clinicians to recognise and use in practice as part of diagnosis and provide targeted treatment. 

The research could help clinicians to –

  1. More quickly identify the type of autoimmune encephalitis a patient has and provide a specific treatment strategy, and
  1. Recognise patients with autoimmune encephalitis who are likely to have more long-term functional disability due to their illness.

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For more information and resources on anti-NMDAr encephalitis, visit this link here. To download a plain language PDF of the paper summarized in this blog, click the button below:

 

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list:

subscribe - Halloween Ideas

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives!

 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis

On June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org  

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE.   Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis For this interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.   AE Warrior Store 300x200 - Using Electroencephalogram for quicker diagnosis and prediction of the likely course for patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

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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