The Patient Perspective in Encephalitis Research

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2024 Jan;11(1):e200189. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000200189. Epub 2023 Dec 7.


Research on autoimmune and infectious encephalitis has made substantial progress in recent years in revealing the pathophysiology of these diseases, establishing robust diagnostic criteria, and developing promising treatment options, with a range of clinical trials currently underway. Outcome measures in studies on autoimmune and infectious encephalitis mainly relied on established and widely used tools such as the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). However, the mRS was developed to assess stroke outcome and has a strong focus on motor symptoms and the degree of dependence in daily activities. For example, approximately 80% of patients with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis (i.e., the most common autoimmune encephalitis variant) achieve a good outcome 2 years after disease onset when evaluated using the mRS.1 In contrast to these findings, recent studies show that a majority of patients with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis suffer from relevant and persistent cognitive impairment, despite mRS scores indicating good or very good recovery.2,3 This shows that the mRS fails to detect clinically relevant long-term symptoms in these patients. Indeed, persisting cognitive deficits with their detrimental effect on quality of life are specifically important in the frequently very young patients with encephalitis. More recently, encephalitis-specific scores have been developed, e.g., the CASE score for the clinical assessment of patients with autoimmune encephalitis.4 While this score is tailored to symptoms in autoimmune encephalitis, it has a strong focus on acute disease symptoms and is less well suited to capture long-term sequalae.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis* / diagnosis
  • Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis* / therapy
  • Hashimoto Disease* / diagnosis
  • Hashimoto Disease* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infectious Encephalitis*
  • Quality of Life

Supplementary concepts

  • Hashimoto's encephalitis