Tics in patients with encephalitis

Neurol Sci. 2021 Apr;42(4):1311-1323. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05065-w. Epub 2021 Jan 23.


Background: Movement disorders have been described in the context of different types of encephalitis. Among hyperkinetic manifestations, tics have sporadically been reported in cases of encephalitis resulting from a range of aetiologies.

Objective: This review aimed to assess the prevalence and characteristics of tics in patients with encephalitis.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review of original studies on the major scientific databases, according to the standards outlined in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.

Results: In addition to the established association between tics and encephalitis lethargica, our literature search identified reports of tics in patients with immune-mediated pathologies (including autoimmune encephalitides affecting the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, voltage-gated potassium channels, and glycine receptors) and infective processes (ranging from relatively common viral pathogens, such as herpes simplex, to prions, as in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Tics were most commonly reported in the post-encephalitic period and involvement of the basal ganglia was frequently observed.

Discussion: The association of new-onset tics and encephalitis, in the background of other neuropsychiatric abnormalities, has practical implications, potentially improving the detection of encephalitis based on clinical features. Future research should focus on the categorisation and treatment of hyperkinetic movement disorders associated with encephalitis.

Keywords: Encephalitis; Gilles de la Tourette syndrome; Hyperkinetic movement disorders; Tics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia
  • Encephalitis* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Tic Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Tic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Tics* / epidemiology
  • Tourette Syndrome*