Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis and Other Synaptic Autoimmune Disorders

Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2011 Jun;13(3):324-32. doi: 10.1007/s11940-011-0116-y.


Synaptic autoimmunity may result in a wide variety of symptoms, including catatonia, psychosis, movement disorders, short-term memory deficits, and refractory seizures, so these patients are seen by a wide spectrum of practitioners, who need to be aware of these disorders. In some cases, these disorders occur as a paraneoplastic manifestation of an associated cancer. However, in contrast to the well-known paraneoplastic neurologic disorders of the central nervous system that predominate in older individuals, these novel disorders often affect children and young adults. Additionally, for some syndromes, the presence of a tumor does not necessarily indicate a poor prognosis. Successful treatment of the tumor and immunotherapy often result in recovery, supporting the use of surgery for severely ill patients. In all syndromes, deficits may be reversible despite the duration or severity of symptoms. For example, patients with anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis who had been in a coma or ventilated for 6-10 months have had full recovery after appropriate treatment.