Clinical specificities of adult male patients with NMDA receptor antibodies encephalitis

Neurology. 2014 Feb 18;82(7):556-63. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000126. Epub 2014 Jan 17.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the clinical features and specificities of adult male patients with NMDA receptor antibodies (NMDAr-Abs) encephalitis.

Methods: Observational study of 13 adult male patients who were diagnosed with NMDAr-Abs encephalitis at the French Paraneoplastic Neurological Syndrome Reference Center.

Results: Adult male patients frequently presented initially with a seizure (8/13, 61.5%). Seizures were partial in 5/8 patients and were followed only a few days later (median 12 days; range 2-17 days) by psychiatric or cognitive symptoms. Conversely, adult female patients rarely presented with a seizure initially (8/58, 14%, p < 0.001), and most of their seizures were generalized and were rapidly followed (median 2 days; range 1-7 days) by behavioral and psychiatric features. Additionally, in male patients the disease was rarely associated with a tumor (1/13 or 8%, a perineal schwannoma); in contrast, 41% of female patients had an associated tumor (95% of which were ovarian teratomas; p = 0.02 male vs female association with tumor). The incidences of abnormalities in ancillary tests, treatment modalities, clinical evolution, and outcome were equal for both subgroups.

Conclusion: Adult male patients who have partial seizures, normal MRI results, and no clear etiology should be tested for NMDAr-Abs to avoid any delays in treatment initiation. Adult female patients who had a seizure as the first symptom are infrequent when NMDAr-Abs encephalitis is diagnosed; additionally, their clinical pattern is different from male patients, with more generalized seizures and rapid development of behavioral and psychiatric symptoms. The differences in hormonal influence could contribute to this difference in clinical pattern.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis / diagnosis*
  • Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / immunology
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / immunology
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Prodromal Symptoms
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / immunology
  • Seizures / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantibodies