The growing recognition of immunotherapy-responsive seizure disorders with autoantibodies to specific neuronal proteins

Curr Opin Neurol. 2010 Apr;23(2):144-50. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32833735fe.


Purpose of review: The concept of epilepsy and seizure disorders caused by autoantibodies to specific neuronal membrane proteins has developed significantly during the past few years.

Recent findings: Antibodies to cell-surface membrane proteins such as voltage-gated potassium channels or N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, or to glutamic acid decarboxylase, are found in patients with different forms of limbic encephalitis, and in a few patients with epilepsy as their main or only condition. Many of these patients do not show a good response to conventional antiepileptic drugs, but respond to immunotherapies. By contrast, studies of other antibodies in idiopathic forms of epilepsy, or epilepsy associated with systemic lupus erythematosus or coeliac disease, have not in general disclosed consistent, clinically helpful results.

Summary: There are a growing number of specific antibodies associated with new onset epilepsy. These patients are likely to have an immune-mediated disorder that may benefit from immunotherapies. In autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or coeliac disease, antibodies to specific membrane targets may also prove to be important in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Encephalitis / immunology
  • Encephalitis / therapy
  • Epilepsy / immunology
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology*
  • Seizures / immunology*
  • Seizures / therapy*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins