Autoimmune encephalitis in children

J Child Neurol. 2012 Nov;27(11):1460-9. doi: 10.1177/0883073812448838. Epub 2012 Aug 29.


The causes of encephalitis are numerous, and extensive investigations for infectious agents and other etiologies are often negative. The discovery that many of these encephalitis are immune mediated has changed the approach to the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. Moreover, the broad spectrum of symptoms including, psychosis, catatonia, alterations of behavior and memory, seizures, abnormal movements, and autonomic dysregulation usually requires a multidisciplinary treatment approach. This review focuses in several forms of encephalitis that occur in children, and for which an autoimmune etiology has been demonstrated (eg, anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor encephalitis) or is strongly suspected (eg, Rasmussen encephalitis, limbic encephalitis, opsoclonus-myoclonus). The authors also review several disorders that may be immune mediated, such as the rapid onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD) syndrome and some encephalopathies with fever and status epilepticus. Recognition of novel immune-mediated encephalitis is important because some of these disorders are highly responsive to immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / therapy
  • Child
  • Encephalitis
  • Hashimoto Disease / diagnosis*
  • Hashimoto Disease / pathology
  • Hashimoto Disease / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Pediatrics / trends

Supplementary concepts

  • Hashimoto's encephalitis