What is it?

Autoimmune encephalitis is a type of brain inflammation caused by the body’s immune system attacking the brain. The immune system produces antibodies that accidentally attack the healthy brain cells. The subtypes of autoimmune encephalitis depend on the antibody in the brain.
People with autoimmune encephalitis can have various neurologic and psychiatric symptoms that can be progressive (worsening over time) or relapsing-remitting (with alternating flare-ups and recovery). Without a treatment, autoimmune encephalitis can cause severe outcomes, such as coma, permanent brain damage, and even be fatal.

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Signs & symptoms

Autoimmune encephalitis can cause a variety of symptoms, including neurological and psychiatric problems. Symptoms may come on over a period of days or weeks. Neurologic symptoms may include impaired memory and cognition, abnormal movements, seizures, and/or problems with balance, speech, or vision. Psychiatric symptoms may include psychosis, aggression, inappropriate sexual behaviors, panic attacks, compulsive behaviors, euphoria, or fear.


Diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis is based on medical history, physical examination, as well as lab tests, and imaging. Lumbar puncture to evaluate the cerebral spinal fluid for antibodies. Blood tests to check antibodies in the blood that are associated with autoimmune encephalitis in some of the patients. MRI scan of the brain to detect signs of the disease.


Early treatment can greatly reduce symptoms and decreases the likelihood of long-term complications.
The treatment includes steroids and other immunosuppressive medications to reduce the inflammation in the brain and the immune system response. Plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) are also an option for treating the inflammation and removing the antibodies.
In some cases, symptomatic treatments and support are also needed.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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