An expert opinion on PANDAS/PANS: highlights and controversies

Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2017 Jun;21(2):91-98. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2017.1285941. Epub 2017 Feb 13.


Objectives: 'Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections' (PANDAS) identified a unique subgroup of patients with abrupt onset of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms clinically related to Streptococcus infection and accompanied by neuropsychological and motor symptoms. After almost 20 years, PANDAS has not been accepted as distinct disorder and new criteria for paediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) have been replaced it, highlighting the fact that several agents rather than only Streptococcus might be involved.

Methods: Extensive review of the PANDAS/PANS literature was performed on PubMed.

Results: Although antibiotics have been reported to be effective for acute and prophylactic phases in several uncontrolled studies and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are used during exacerbations, clinical multicenter trials are still missing. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are still the first line of recommendation for acute onset OCD spectrum. Immunological therapies should be restricted to a few cases.

Conclusions: While PANDAS has found no confirmation as a distinct syndrome, and it is not presented in DSM-5, patients with acute onset OCD spectrum, neurocognitive and motor symptoms should be evaluated for inflammatory, infective, immunological and metabolic abnormalities with a comprehensive diagnostic algorithm.

Keywords: OCD; PANDAS; PANS; Streptococcal infection.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Expert Testimony*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Streptococcal Infections* / diagnosis
  • Streptococcal Infections* / drug therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections* / physiopathology
  • Streptococcal Infections* / therapy

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections