Background: Movement disorder relapses after herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) encephalitis have been hypothesized to be secondary to postviral autoimmunity. Recently, a proportion of patients with HSV1 encephalitis (HSE) were shown to produce autoantibodies against N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR).
Methods: We measured autoantibodies against NMDAR and dopamine-2 receptor (D2R) expressed at the cell surface in the stored acute serum of 9 children with HSE, 3 of whom had a relapsing course with chorea.
Results: The 3 patients with chorea had elevated autoantibodies against NMDAR (n = 1), D2R (n = 1), or both (n = 1), whereas patients without chorea were negative (n = 6). The prospectively identified patient with chorea and NMDAR autoantibodies improved after early treatment with steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, and cyclophosphamide, with reduction in serum NMDAR antibody titers.
Conclusions: These autoantibody findings lend support to the autoimmune hypothesis and the early use of immune suppression in post-HSE chorea.
Keywords: NMDA receptor; autoantibody; chorea; dopamine-2 receptor; herpes simplex encephalitis.
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