Clinical Features and Outcomes of Anti-N-Methyl-d-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis in Infants and Toddlers

Pediatr Neurol. 2021 Jun;119:27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2021.02.009. Epub 2021 Mar 12.


Objective: We describe the clinical features and outcomes of anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis in infants and toddlers.

Methods: This was a single-center retrospective study. Infants and toddlers who met the diagnostic criteria for anti-NMDAR encephalitis were recruited for the study. Data on clinical features, treatment, and long-term outcomes were collected retrospectively.

Results: A total of 41 patients (age range: six to 34 months; median age: 23 months; female: 19) were enrolled in this study. Nineteen (46%) patients exhibited classical anti-NMDAR encephalitis, whereas 22 (54%) patients exhibited anti-NMDAR encephalitis after viral encephalitis. There was a high presentation of movement disorders (100%), developmental regression (90%), abnormal behaviors (90%). All patients were administered first-line therapy, with only 17% of them being administered second-line immunotherapy. Two patients succumbed to the disease, whereas none of them relapsed. At the long-term follow-up (more than one year), 20 of 35 (57%) exhibited satisfactory outcomes (modified Rankin Scale ≤2). Compared with patients with classical anti-NMDAR encephalitis (n = 18), patients after viral encephalitis (n = 17) were more likely to have worse clinical outcomes. They exhibited a higher modified Rankin Scale/Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category score and more frequent seizures. A predictor of poor outcome was presentation after viral encephalitis (odds ratio 35.7, 95% confidence interval 4.64 to 275.03, P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Anti-NMDAR encephalitis in infants and toddlers clinically presents with movement disorders, developmental regression, and abnormal behaviors. Interestingly, this group had a higher proportion of patients after viral encephalitis, which is regarded as the only risk factor for poor outcomes.

Keywords: Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor; Encephalitis; Infants; Outcome; Pediatric; Toddlers; Viral encephalitis.