Neuroimmune disorders in COVID-19

J Neurol. 2022 Jun;269(6):2827-2839. doi: 10.1007/s00415-022-11050-w. Epub 2022 Mar 30.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the aetiologic agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is now rapidly disseminating throughout the world with 147,443,848 cases reported so far. Around 30-80% of cases (depending on COVID-19 severity) are reported to have neurological manifestations including anosmia, stroke, and encephalopathy. In addition, some patients have recognised autoimmune neurological disorders, including both central (limbic and brainstem encephalitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis [ADEM], and myelitis) and peripheral diseases (Guillain-Barré and Miller Fisher syndrome). We systematically describe data from 133 reported series on the Neurology and Neuropsychiatry of COVID-19 blog ( ) providing a comprehensive overview concerning the diagnosis, and treatment of patients with neurological immune-mediated complications of SARS-CoV-2. In most cases the latency to neurological disorder was highly variable and the immunological or other mechanisms involved were unclear. Despite specific neuronal or ganglioside antibodies only being identified in 10, many had apparent responses to immunotherapies. Although the proportion of patients experiencing immune-mediated neurological disorders is small, the total number is likely to be underestimated. The early recognition and improvement seen with use of immunomodulatory treatment, even in those without identified autoantibodies, makes delayed or missed diagnoses risk the potential for long-term disability, including the emerging challenge of post-acute COVID-19 sequelae (PACS). Finally, potential issues regarding the use of immunotherapies in patients with pre-existent neuro-immunological disorders are also discussed.

Keywords: Autoimmune encephalitis; Guillain–Barre syndrome; Limbic encephalitis; Neuroimmunology; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases* / etiology
  • Nervous System Diseases* / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stroke* / complications