Limbic encephalitis associated with anti-GAD antibody and common variable immune deficiency

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2009 Jul;51(7):563-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03217.x. Epub 2009 Feb 3.


A variety of autoantibodies have been identified with complex neurological disorders including limbic encephalitis. The underlying trigger for the immune-mediated process and the role of autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of limbic encephalitis remain to be clarified. Here, we report a 16-year-old female who was diagnosed with acute-onset non-neoplastic limbic encephalitis. The initial treatment with pulse doses of i.v. methylprednisolone improved the neurological symptoms. During the next 12 months, progressive decline was reported in her academic functioning and seizure control. Additional diagnostic evaluation revealed no evidence of malignancy or central nervous system infection but circulating anti-GAD antibodies were present in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid. Intravenous gammaglobulin infusion was initiated and continued monthly. Intravenous and oral steroids were added to the intravenous immunoglobulin treatment because of the worsening course and seizures, despite treatment with antiepileptic medications. Screening for quantitative immunoglobulins demonstrated hypogammaglobulinaemia with low immunoglobulin M and G in addition to low immunoglobulin A levels. There was a lack of protective pneumococcal antibody titers before and after immunization. Therefore, common variable immunodeficiency was suspected despite there being no history of recurrent infections. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing a possible link between immune-mediated limbic encephalitis and immune deficiency.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Agammaglobulinemia / blood
  • Agammaglobulinemia / complications*
  • Agammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Agammaglobulinemia / therapy
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / blood
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / complications*
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / immunology
  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency / therapy
  • Female
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Limbic Encephalitis / complications
  • Limbic Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Limbic Encephalitis / therapy
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • Methylprednisolone