The growing spectrum of antibody-associated inflammatory brain diseases in children

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2015 Apr 2;2(3):e92. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000092. eCollection 2015 Jun.


Objective: To describe the clinical spectrum, diagnostic evaluation, current management, and neurologic outcome of pediatric antibody-associated inflammatory brain diseases (AB-associated IBrainD).

Methods: We performed a single-center retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients aged ≤18 years diagnosed with an AB-associated IBrainD at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, between January 2005 and June 2013. Standardized clinical data, laboratory test results, neuroimaging features, and treatment regimens were captured.

Results: Of 169 children (93 female, 55%) diagnosed with an IBrainD, 16 (10%) had an AB-associated IBrainD. Median age at presentation was 13.3 years (range 3.1-17.9); 11 (69%) were female. Nine patients (56%) had anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, 4 (25%) had aquaporin-4 autoimmunity, 2 (13%) had Hashimoto encephalitis, and 1 (6%) had anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) encephalitis. The key presenting features in children with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, Hashimoto encephalopathy, and anti-GAD65 encephalitis included encephalopathy, behavioral symptoms, and seizures; patients with aquaporin-4 autoimmunity showed characteristic focal neurologic deficits. Six patients (38%) required intensive care unit admission at presentation. Median time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 55 days (range 6-358). All but 1 patient received immunosuppressive therapy. One child with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis died due to multiorgan failure. At last follow-up, after a median follow-up time of 1.7 years (range 0.8-3.7), 27% of the children had function-limiting neurologic sequelae.

Conclusions: Children with AB-associated IBrainD represent an increasing subgroup among IBrainD; 1 in 4 children has function-limiting residual neurologic deficits. Awareness of the different clinical patterns is important in order to facilitate timely diagnosis and initiate immunosuppressive treatment.