Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis described as causing violent behavior and paranoia




[Anti- NMDA- receptor encephalitis; a neuropsychiatric illness requiring further study].

Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2012;54(3):279-83.
[Article in Dutch]


Accare, locatie de Ruyterstee, Fazantenlaan 1, 9422 EZ Smilde.


We describe the case of a 17-year-old girl with anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. She had the characteristic psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, delirious and bizarre behaviour, and catatonic symptoms. She later also displayed neurological symptoms such as epileptic seizures, dyskinesias and sensitivity disturbances. After treatment with corticosteroids and immunoglobulins patient recovered completely. Potentially lethal symptoms can arise from the autonomic dysregulation. The incidence of this disorder has not yet been established. The catatonic features should be treated adequately with high doses of benzodiazepines. Because patients usually present with psychiatric symptoms, treatment often starts in a psychiatric setting. In view of the serious somatic complications it is desirable that the patient be treated in a general hospital. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important because the chances of recovery are thereby enhanced.

[Encephalitis associated to anti-NMDA receptor antibodies: a description of two cases in the child/youth population].

Rev Neurol. 2012 Apr 16;54(8):475-8.
[Article in Spanish]


Servicio de Psiquiatría, Hospital Clínico Universitario Lozano Blesa, Zaragoza, España.



The clinical diagnosis of encephalitis due to anti-glutamate receptor N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antibodies (anti-NMDA encephalitis) is made more complex by the fact that psychiatric clinical features are usually predominant in the early stages. This can lead to a delay in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of the disease.


We report on two clinical cases attended by the Child/Youth Psychiatry Section of our hospital, in collaboration with the Paediatric and Neurology services. Case 1: a 4-year-old male who was referred owing to behavioural alterations and the regression of previously acquired skills. Case 2: a 13-year-old female who was admitted due to a behavioural disorder within the context of a possible initial psychotic episode. In both cases appropriate complementary tests were performed, including lumbar puncture and anti-NMDA antibodies, which were positive. Once the diagnosis of anti-NMDA encephalitis had been reached, treatment was started: in the first case, with intravenous perfusion of corticoids and immunoglobulins, while in the second rituximab had to be associated. Both patients progressed towards clinical improvement.


Over the last two years there has been an increase in the number of cases of anti-NMDA encephalitis diagnosed in the child/youth population. It is a neuropsychiatric, autoimmune condition, which can correspond to a paraneoplastic syndrome. Follow-up and transvaginal ultrasonography as well as thoracoabdominal computerised axial tomography scans are recommended for at least two years after diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment are important, which means that a multi- and interdisciplinary approach is required.

[Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis – case report].

Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2012 May-Jun;46(3):288-93.
[Article in Polish]


Oddział Neurologii, SPSK nr 7, Śląski Uniwersytet Medyczny w Katowicach, ul. Ziołowa 45-47, 40-635 Katowice.


We present a patient with multiple sclerosis, diagnosed at the age of 16.5, in whom mental and orientation disturbances, strange behaviour as well as bizarre dyskinesias of the face and extremities occurred at age 20. After several days, tonic-clonic status epilepticus developed. Head computed tomography showed no abnormalities. Lumbar puncture revealed a pleocytosis of 20/3, which became normal after treatment. Seizures were brought under control, but the psychiatric symptoms persisted; they subsided after a dozen or so weeks. Magnetic resonance of the head and cervical spinal cord did not show any new abnormalities. After another several months, all symptoms recurred. A wide range of laboratory tests, as well as positron emission tomography, did not reveal any abnormalities. Suspicion of autoimmune encephalitis led to a test for serum anti-NMDA-receptor antibodies that confirmed the diagnosis. After immunotherapy, our patient improved and was transferred for rehabilitation.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
J Child Neurol. 2012 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) ReceptorEncephalitis in a Young Lebanese Girl.


Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis is a recently recognized autoimmune neurologic disorder that presents with severe neuropsychiatric symptoms in previously healthy children. A 4-year-old Lebanese girl presented with new-onset behavioral changes, orofacial dyskinesias,  fluctuation in consciousness, inability to walk, and mutism. Antibodies directed cerebrospinal fluid. Prompt treatment with a single course of intravenous immunoglobulin   resulted in early complete recovery. This is the first case report of a Middle   Eastern child affected with this condition.

[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) Receptor Encephalitis Mimicking a Primary Psychiatric Disorder in an Adolescent.

J Child Neurol. 2012 Dec;27(12):1607-10. doi: 10.1177/0883073812438099. Epub  2012 Mar 8.


1Department of Pediatric Medico-surgical, Pediatric Neurology and Neurorehabilitation Unit, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate (anti-NMDA) receptor encephalitis likely has a wider clinical spectrum than previously recognized. This article reports a previously healthy 16-year-old girl who was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis 3 months after onset of severe depression with psychotic features. She had no neurological manifestations, and cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was normal. Slow background on electroencephalogram and an oligoclonal band in the cerebrospinal fluid prompted the search for anti-NMDA receptor antibodies. She markedly improved over time but remained with mild neuropsychological sequelae after a trial of late immunotherapy. Only a high index of suspicion enables recognition of the milder forms of the disease masquerading as primary psychiatric disorders.

[PubMed – in process]

[Case report of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis suspected of schizophrenia].

Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi. 2009;111(12):1479-84.

[Article in Japanese]


Department of Psychiatry, Hokkaido University.


Recently, paraneoplastic encephalitis associated with ovarian teratoma, which predomi nantly affects young women, has been reported. Its symptoms are severe but often treatment-responsive and reversible. Various psychiatric symptoms occurring shortly after onset are characteristic of this encephalitis. A 22-year-old female who had a fever and common cold-like symptoms presented with short-term memory loss. She was suspected to have viral encephalitis, but the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) showed no marked change. Shortly after that, she developed delusions and hallucinations and presented with psychomotor excitement. She was suspected of having schizophrenia and admitted to the psychiatry department. However, several days after admission, she showed upper limb convulsion, orofacial dyskinesias, and central hypoventilation and became unresponsive. The results of laboratory tests were within the normal range, and there was no marked elevation of anti-viral antibody titers. Brain imaging was normal, but a solid tumor containing soft tissue and calcified components, probably an ovarian teratoma, was discovered on an abdominal CT scan. Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antibody was positive in her CSF and blood serum, and we diagnosed her with “Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis”. Gamma globulin was very effective, and the ovarian teratoma was removed. Finally, she could be discharged from our hospital without any sequela, and returned to her job. Psychiatrists often encounter encephalitis patients with psychiatric symptoms. If the type of encephalitis is unknown, we should keep this disease in mind.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Early Diagnosis of Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate Receptor Encephalitis in a Young Woman with Psychiatric Symptoms.

Tokai J Exp Clin Med. 2012 Sep 20;37(3):89-93.


Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-1193, Japan.


A previously healthy 21-year-old woman, transported to our medical emergency center for excluding organic brain disease, had undergone medical examination 9 days before for trembling in her left hand, which was caused by stress. The patient exhibited fever and strange behaviors, e.g., wandering around, babbling, and making smoking gestures; hence, psychiatric examination was performed. The patient’s Glasgow Coma Scale score was 4-3-5, and involuntary movement was observed. Cerebrospinal fluid examination revealed increased cell count; hence, we suspected anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis. We conducted an abdominal CT scan, which revealed a neoplastic lesion with calcification in the right ovary. Early steroid pulse therapy was started. On hospital day 25, she tested positive for anti-NMDA receptor antibodies; hence, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and concomitant ovarian teratoma was diagnosid. She underwent right adnexectomy; subsequently, immunotherapy was performed. The patient recovered and was discharged on hospital day 105. Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is not uncommon; however, this disease must be considered for young encephalitis patients exhibiting psychiatric symptoms. If patients (aged ≤ 30 years) presents with encephalitis of uncertain etiology, psychiatric symptoms, seizures, movement disorders, or psychosis, clinicians should consider anti-NMDA encephalitis as a possible diagnosis. Clinical diagnosis should be waged early to ensure timely treatment.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis: an important differential diagnosis in psychosis

Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;199(6):508-9. Epub  2011 Oct 7.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis: an important differential diagnosis in psychosis.


Department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, RCSI Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland.


We present four cases of confirmed anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; three presented initially with serious psychiatric symptoms and the other developed significant psychiatric symptoms during the initial phase of illness. Brain biopsy findings of one patient are also described. Psychiatrists should consider anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in patients presenting with psychosis and additional features of dyskinesias, seizures and catatonia, particularly where there is no previous history of psychiatric disorder.

Up ↑