Autoimmune Epilepsy in Children: Unraveling the Mystery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although many neurologists are familiar with the clinical presentations of anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor or limbic encephalitides, there remains much mystery surrounding autoimmune etiologies of subacute and chronic epilepsies. In addition, the subtleties and differences in presentation in the pediatric population limit diagnosis and challenge clinicians. In the absence of an acute encephalitic picture, it is likely that many clinicians do not test for autoimmune disorders due to the uncertainty surrounding the selection of appropriate candidates for testing and immunomodulation. Recent developments have expanded the definition of epilepsy related to autoimmune mechanisms. Based on current knowledge, autoimmune epilepsy can best be thought of as a subset of autoimmune encephalitis where seizures and epilepsy are the primary presenting factor. Autoimmune epilepsy has been increasingly recognized as a contributor to drug-resistant epilepsies; however, identification of affected individuals remains challenging, particularly in the pediatric population. Our understanding of autoimmune epilepsy continues to evolve as more individuals with epilepsy are tested for antibodies to neuronal proteins and as additional antibodies are being identified. This article provides an overview of the clinical features most commonly associated with positive antibody testing in epilepsy and the scales that are currently available to screen patients for antibody testing and response to immunotherapy. Literature-based recommendations are presented for the modification and validation of current scales to increase applicability to children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-77
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Neurology
Volume112
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Cell surface antibodies
  • Encephalitis
  • Immunotherapy
  • Refractory epilepsy
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology

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