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Isolated psychiatric episodes rare, but possible, in common form of autoimmune encephalitis
Date:7/26/2013

PHILADELPHIA - A small percentage of people diagnosed with a mysterious neurological condition may only experience psychiatric changes - such as delusional thinking, hallucinations, and aggressive behavior - according to a new study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, people who had previously been diagnosed with this disease, called anti-NMDA receptor (anti-NMDAR) encephalitis, had relapses that only involved psychiatric behavior. In an article published Online First in JAMA Neurology, researchers suggest that, while isolated psychiatric episodes are rare in anti-NMDAR encephalitis cases, abnormal test findings or subtle neurological symptoms should prompt screening for the condition, as it is treatable with immunotherapies.

Within a large group of 571 patients with confirmed Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis, only 23 patients (4 percent) had isolated psychiatric episodes. Of the 23, 5 patients experienced the onset of behavior changes as their only symptoms, without neurological changes, while 18 patients had psychiatric symptoms emerge at the outset of a relapse of Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis in which no neurological changes were identified. After being treated for the condition, 83 percent of these patients recovered substantially or completely.

"While many patients with Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis present with isolated psychiatric symptoms, most of these patients subsequently develop, in a matter of days, additional neurological symptoms which help to make the diagnosis of the disease. In the current study, we find out that a small percentage of patients do not develop neurological symptoms, or sometimes these are very subtle and transitory. Studies using brain MRI and analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid may help to demonstrate signs of inflammation," said Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD, adjunct professor of Neurology. "For patients who have been previously diagnosed with Anti-NMDAR Encephalit
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Contact: Kim Menard
kim.menard@uphs.upenn.edu
215-662-6183
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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