Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

In an anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. The medical term for encephalitis is encephalitis. Since antibodies against the NMDA receptor are present in this special form of inflammation, it is referred to as anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

What is Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis?

According to dictionaryforall, the causes responsible for the development of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis have not yet been adequately researched. Based on current knowledge, however, it can be assumed that specific genetic factors have an influence on the disease.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis was classified as a disease only a few years ago. Together with various other infectious diseases of the brain, which were previously largely undetected, the disease has been increasingly researched since 2000. However, there are currently hardly any reliable data with regard to the frequency of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis .

With a relatively high probability, however, it can be determined that around 80 percent of all patients are female. The average age at which the disease occurs is 23 years. The age range of the patients ranges from 22 months to 79 years.

It is also noteworthy that not only humans can develop anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, but also other mammals. Polar bear Knut from the Berlin Zoo also died of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.


The causes responsible for the development of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis have not yet been adequately researched. Based on current knowledge, however, it can be assumed that specific genetic factors have an influence on the disease. Because anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disease .

Medical research shows that autoimmune diseases, in most cases, have a genetic component. This argument is supported by the enormous difference in the frequency of the disease in women and men. It must also be taken into account that certain inflammations promote the development and onset of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

Because a large number of those affected suffer from infections at the beginning of the disease. However, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is not an infectious disease. Most importantly, the disease is not transmitted to other people, as is the case with viral infections. Since anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disease, the organism forms antibodies against the so-called NMDA receptor in the brain.

This is a protein that is important for the transmission of signals in the brain. In addition, around 60 percent of adults affected suffer from an ovarian tumor that is related to anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. In other sick people, on the other hand, there are no underlying diseases.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

In a large number of cases, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis announces itself with flu-like symptoms. The patients also complain of insomnia and loss of appetite as well as states of confusion . In addition, there are often psychological symptoms in the form of fear and bizarre behaviors up to delusional states and hallucinations .

For this reason, the majority of the sick go to psychiatric therapy first. Epileptic seizures and impaired consciousness often occur over the course of a few weeks . Other potential symptoms of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis include difficulty swallowing and involuntary movements, including the inability to move.

Also cardiac arrhythmias , damage to the respiratory and fluctuations of blood pressure and body temperature are possible. Observations suggest that anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis can lead to autism-like symptoms in older children .

Diagnosis & course

A number of examination-technical methods are available for the reliable diagnosis of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The treating specialist decides on the diagnostic procedure depending on the individual case. So far, class G immunoglobulins have been found in all patients . In addition, immunoglobulins from class A could be detected in 30 percent of the sick.

These tests are currently not carried out in a standardized manner around the world. Due to various laboratory methods, it is possible that anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis may be overlooked, even if the person has symptoms. The suspicion of the presence of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is mostly based on the clinical syndrome.

An increased number of cells in the cerebrospinal fluid is also indicative of the disease. The detection of the body’s own antibodies against the NMDA receptors both in the serum and in the liquor corroborates the diagnosis. In addition, numerous patients show changes in the EEG. Around half of the people also have changes in the brain that are visible using magnetic resonance imaging .

When should you go to the doctor?

Unfortunately, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is recognized relatively late because the symptoms are very similar to flu or cold, so that the disease is diagnosed late. However, the person concerned should then consult a doctor if there is a loss of appetite or insomnia.

A doctor should be consulted, especially if the symptoms persist. Changes and disorders of the personality, anxiety or adeptness can also indicate anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and should therefore be examined by a doctor in any case.

It is also not uncommon for heart or breathing problems to occur, so that those affected need a physical examination. Hallucinations or difficulty swallowing can also indicate anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Early diagnosis and treatment is necessary, especially in children, in order to avoid further complications. Children can also show symptoms of autism.

As a rule, a general practitioner can be seen first and foremost for anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. In most cases, this condition is treated with surgery that removes the tumor. Psychological treatments are also necessary. Relatives or parents can also be dependent on psychological treatment.

Treatment & Therapy

In the course of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, the use of psychotropic drugs is usually necessary. The aim of this drug treatment is to calm the patient down and reduce anxiety and psychotic symptoms . In addition, attempts are made to prevent the organism’s defective defense reactions with the help of immunosuppressive drugs .

In most cases, intravenous immunoglobulins and glucocorticoids are used. If a patient suffers from a tumor , its removal is necessary. The prognosis for anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is mostly positive. About 75 percent of the sick can be cured or only have minor neurological damage from the disease. About 21 percent have severe neurological impairments from the disease.

About four percent of those affected die from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Basically, the prognosis is better for people who have a tumor that is eventually removed. If the disease is recognized and treated at an early stage, the chances of a complete cure are very good.

Outlook & forecast

A sick person can only count on an alleviation and healing of the symptoms in an inpatient treatment. Without it, there is an increase in the existing complaints and further symptoms. If the disease remains undetected and untreated, it can be fatal.

The inflammatory process of the brain can proceed unhindered without intervention and lead to a failure of individual systems. Ultimately, the system threatens to collapse, with fatal consequences. Without competent medical care, the risk of loss of life and the existence of permanent damage increases significantly.

If intensive medical treatment takes place in good time, the chances of recovery depend on the progress of the disease. If anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is detected early, there are good drug treatment options that can be used. In these cases, the patient can expect to be discharged from the hospital after a few weeks. However, follow-up treatments are necessary and there is a risk of relapse.

It is not yet possible to provide a long-term prognosis because the disease is a recently discovered disease. It was diagnosed for the first time a few years ago, so research on this has not yet been fully completed. So far it has been known that even several years after the onset of the disease, targeted therapies can improve the current state of health.


Since the anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis has not yet been adequately researched, no reliable statements about measures to prevent the disease are possible. Since it is an autoimmune disease with a genetic component, it can be assumed that preventive measures, with the exception of preventive examinations, may not even exist.


Follow-up care for anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is usually relatively difficult, so those affected are primarily dependent on medical treatment for this disease. Complete healing cannot always be guaranteed, so life expectancy may be reduced. Treatment of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is usually done with the help of medication.

Those affected should ensure that they take the drugs regularly and correctly and also consider possible interactions with other drugs in order to avoid complications and other complaints. The earlier the anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is detected, the higher the chance of a complete cure. If the anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is caused by a tumor, it usually has to be removed surgically.

After such an operation, those affected should always rest and not strain their bodies unnecessarily. Stress should also always be avoided. Regular examinations of the body for cancer are also useful to prevent the tumor from spreading. In general, contact with other sufferers of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis can also have a positive effect on the course of the disease, as information is often exchanged.

You can do that yourself

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is a genetic inflammatory disease of the brain. Until the onset of symptoms, those affected suffer more from infections that are non-communicable. With this symptom, methods of self-help can only be applied to a limited extent.

First, bad habits such as smoking , drug, drug and alcohol abuse should be abandoned. A light diet rich in vitamins and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids support the immune system, especially when psychotropic drugs are used.

As soon as exhaustion and loss of appetite accumulate, a nutritionally designed menu is an important support in coping with the symptoms psychologically. Immunosuppressive preparations curb the defective defense reaction of the organism.

More than half of adult women affected by the symptom have an ovarian tumor. If the disease occurs, a thorough gynecological examination should therefore be carried out as a self-help . If severe swallowing and cardiovascular problems occur, the medical emergency service must be called in.

In order to be able to cope with everyday life for the time being as the symptom progresses, it is advisable to seek help from relatives or third parties. Assisted living or a temporary stay in a psychiatric rehabilitation clinic is recommended. The disease can lead to confusion, panic behaviors with uncontrollable movements, delusional states, hallucinations and epileptic fits. This explains the use of calming medication with psychological care at the same time.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis