Autoimmune Epilepsy

Semin Neurol. 2015 Jun;35(3):245-58. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1552625. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Seizures are recognized as a common manifestation of autoimmune limbic encephalitis and multifocal paraneoplastic disorders, but accumulating evidence supports an autoimmune basis for seizures in the absence of syndromic manifestations of encephalitis. Autoimmune encephalitis and epilepsy have been linked to neural-specific autoantibodies targeting both intracellular and plasma membrane antigens. The detection of these antibodies can serve as a diagnostic marker directing physicians toward specific cancers and can assist in therapeutic decision-making, but are not necessary to establish the diagnosis. Response to an immunotherapy trial can support the diagnosis and help establish prognosis. Early recognition is important because expedited diagnosis can facilitate recovery. In this review, the authors summarize the clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and management of autoimmune epilepsies for which neural antigen-specific autoantibodies serve as diagnostic aids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Epilepsy / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Limbic Encephalitis / complications*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / complications*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Autoimmune limbic encephalitis