Limbic Encephalitis

According to, Limbic encephalitis is a disease of the central nervous system associated with inflammatory processes. The term ‘limbic encephalitis’ covers a number of different subacute diseases affecting the central nervous system. Limbic encephalitis occurs predominantly in adults who suffer from symptoms such as epilepsy, mental problems or memory difficulties as a result of the disease.

Limbic Encephalitis

What is Limbic Encephalitis?

The term disease came from several neurologists in Great Britain, who identified inflammation in the area of ​​the limbic system in some affected people. Basically, limbic encephalitis is associated with cancer in about 60 percent of all patients. The medical term for this is paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis. There are also non-paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis, which in most cases represent diseases of the human immune system.


The causes of limbic encephalitis are differentiated according to the two subcategories of the disease:

Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis is a type of disease often caused by cancer. In more than half of those affected, this form of limbic encephalitis develops as a result of carcinoma. The inflammatory processes then occur as a direct result of the cancer.

The disease of non-paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis, however, is not due to malignant tumors. Instead, in this case, the sick people suffer from diseases of the body’s own defense system. It is also possible that a possible cancer has not yet been diagnosed.

The exact reasons for the development of the autoimmune disorder have not yet been sufficiently researched. Some patients have certain antibodies that attack specific structures in the central nervous system and neurons.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of limbic encephalitis are relatively general in the majority of cases and also occur in a variety of other diseases. For this reason, a diagnosis of limbic encephalitis is often difficult. Typically, people suffering from limbic encephalitis suffer from seizures of an epileptic nature, for example, or have memory difficulties.

Some people also have psychological problems, such as euphoria, depression, apathy or personality changes. In principle, there are no differences in the symptoms between the paraneoplastic and the non-paraneoplastic form of limbic encephalitis.

Diagnosis & course of disease

It often takes a long time before limbic encephalitis is correctly diagnosed. Because the typical symptoms of the disease also occur in various other diseases, since they are primarily general symptoms that occur frequently. Appropriate standards for diagnosing the disease were only established a few years ago.

In any case, the patients suffer from the so-called limbic syndrome. The beginning of this phenomenon is no more than five years ago. Affect disorders, difficulties with new memory and seizures of the temporal lobes are decisive criteria.

The affected patient is usually cared for and examined by a neurologist. The anamnesis before the examination clarifies the individual complaints in connection with the person’s lifestyle. The information about any existing chronic diseases or certain diseases in the past of the patient helps the doctor to approach the present disease.

Familial and genetic dispositions of limbic encephalitis in the affected patient are also relevant. The clinical examination usually consists of an MRI examination and histological analyses. Limbic encephalitis can be diagnosed comparatively clearly using certain criteria.

The decisive factor here is, among other things, the detection of a so-called chronic temporomedial encephalitis. In the case of laboratory tests, the nerve fluid is primarily analyzed. The so-called liquor cerebrospinalis comes from a lumbar puncture.

In limbic encephalitis, there are indications of inflammatory processes in the majority of cases. Another characteristic of the disease is that the lymphocytes multiply, which is also known as lymphocytic pleocytosis. Occasionally, oligoclonal bands and barrier disruptions are also found.


In most cases, this disease is only diagnosed relatively late, so that the disease is only treated late. Likewise, the symptoms are not particularly characteristic and can also occur with various other diseases. Those affected usually suffer from epileptic seizures and severe muscle cramps. In most cases, these are associated with severe pain.

It can also lead to confusion in the patient and also to memory problems. Those affected can no longer remember events correctly and are therefore significantly restricted in their everyday life. The disease also leads to depression and other mental upsets. The personality of those affected can also change negatively as a result of the disease, with social problems being the main cause.

The disease can be treated with various medications. It is not uncommon for relatives or parents to be treated as well, as it is not uncommon for them to suffer from psychological problems as well. Complete healing is usually not possible. However, there are no particular complications.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of an epileptic seizure, a doctor’s visit is always necessary to clarify the cause. Seizures every doctor should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. If there are changes in memory activity, limitations in the usual memory capacity or if acquired knowledge cannot be recalled as usual, a doctor should be consulted. Reduced performance or easy fatigue when retrieving memory content must be examined more closely by a doctor.

If objectively false memories are repeatedly noticed or if the person concerned suffers from memory gaps, a doctor is needed. Sudden changes in the person’s usual personality or abnormalities in their usual behavior should be clarified by a doctor. If people in the immediate vicinity notice significant changes in the appearance, in the statements or in the attitudes of the patient, a doctor should be alerted.

Social withdrawal, depressive moods or apathetic behavior are considered to be worrisome. They should be seen by a doctor if they persist for several weeks or increase in intensity. A strong euphoric appearance without reason or increased irritability should also be discussed with a doctor. If the person concerned experiences a vague feeling of illness, a general malaise or changes in his perception, the complaints should be discussed with a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

In both forms of limbic encephalitis, immunotherapy is used first. Even a suspicion of the disease is reason enough to initiate appropriate technical treatment measures. As soon as the MRI examination gives indications of limbic encephalitis, immunotherapy begins in many cases.

As a rule, substances such as immunoglobulins and glucocorticoids are used. In addition, it is possible to treat limbic encephalitis with the help of plasmapheresis. As soon as more precise knowledge is available about the antibodies or carcinomas present in the individual case, the doctor makes appropriate changes in the treatment.

If a tumor is identified, its treatment is the focus of efforts. In cases without cancer, the success of the immunotherapy is evaluated after three months. If there are no positive effects, the type of immunotherapy is usually changed. If the treatment still does not have the desired effect after this, continuing immunotherapy is only appropriate for limbic encephalitis associated with VGKC antibodies.

Outlook & Forecast

Limbic encephalitis is characterized by difficulties in diagnosis. Due to the parallelism of complaints from different diseases, the patient often goes through a large number of tests and guesses as to the causes until a complete clarification takes place and a final diagnosis is made. This circumstance makes early and comprehensive therapy more difficult.

The physical as well as the mental state is therefore often excessively affected at the time of diagnosis. In addition, complete recovery is often not achieved despite all efforts and the use of various therapeutic approaches. Nevertheless, the symptoms that have arisen can be treated symptomatically with the current medical options. This makes it possible to live with the disease and leads to an improvement in the quality of life.

The prognosis worsens when a tumor is identified as the cause of the encephalitis. The course of the disease and the treatment options are linked to the size of the tumor and the general state of health of the person affected. In unfavorable cases, the affected person dies prematurely. If medical care is not used, a steady increase in complaints is to be expected. In addition to the physical irregularities, there are emotional stressful situations. This can lead to psychological complications. These significantly worsen the general state of health of the patient and can trigger further impairments in the way of life.


Today’s options for preventing limbic encephalitis are limited. The causes identified so far, such as autoimmune diseases and cancer, are themselves pathological phenomena that have not yet been adequately researched. Patients with characteristic symptoms of limbic encephalitis are recommended to consult a specialist immediately and have the origin of the symptoms clarified.

You can do that yourself

Patients with limbic encephalitis have no way of healing the disease on their own. Various measures can be taken in everyday life to achieve an improvement in well-being, but recovery is only possible in cooperation with doctors.

Conversations with friends and confidants help to strengthen the psyche. The patient can use this to express his emotions and receives feedback and valuable tips that can help to change his own thoughts. In self-help groups or forums, sufferers can exchange information and share their experiences with each other. In addition, relaxation methods are suitable for reducing the stress of everyday life and creating inner peace and balance. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, autogenic training or Qi Gongthe patient can apply independently and in small groups and experience a stabilization of inner balance.

With a positive basic attitude and a fundamentally optimistic attitude towards the challenges of life, the affected person can achieve a significant improvement in his situation. Sufficient exercise, various leisure activities and a healthy lifestyle help to build up the body’s defenses and overcome psychological problems. Sufficient sleep and the avoidance of harmful influences on various levels can be a valuable support for the patient in overcoming the disease.