Case Report: Daratumumab in a Patient With Severe Refractory Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

Front Neurol. 2020 Dec 22;11:602102. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.602102. eCollection 2020.


Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is the most common type of antibody mediated autoimmune encephalitis (AIE). Patients often develop neuropsychiatric symptoms and seizures, women are affected about four times more than men, and in about 50% the disease is associated with a neoplasia, especially teratomas of the ovary. We describe the case of a 20-year-old woman suffering from a severe therapy refractory course of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Treatment included glucocorticoids, plasma exchange, intravenous immunoglobulins, rituximab, and bortezomib without clinical improvement. Due to a therapy refractive course 28 weeks after disease onset, the patient received 10 cycles of daratumumab. Therapy escalation was performed with the anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody daratumumab as off label treatment, based on the therapy of refractory myeloma and led to an improvement of her clinical status. She spent about 200 days on the intensive care unit, followed by several weeks on the intermediate care unit with close follow ups every 4-6 weeks afterward. During follow-up, the patient was able to resume everyday and self-care activities, reflected by the modified Rankin scale (mRS) and Barthel index. Because this disease is potentially life threatening and can lead to irreversible brain atrophy, development of further therapy strategies are of great importance. Our case describes a successful treatment for therapy refractory anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis using the anti-CD38 antibody daratumumab.

Keywords: anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; autoimmune encephalitis; bortezomib; critical care; daratumumab.

Publication types

  • Case Reports