Rutatangwa A, Mittal N, Francisco C, Nash K, Waubant E. Autoimmune Encephalitis in Children: A Case Series at a Tertiary Care Center [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 27]. J Child Neurol. 2020;883073820923834. doi:10.1177/0883073820923834
Autoimmune encephalitis is the third most common cause of encephalitis in children. We provide a detailed account of presenting symptoms, diagnosis, and response to treatment in pediatric autoimmune encephalitis patients evaluated at University of California San Francisco within a 2.5-year period. Eleven were identified: anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis (n = 4), antibody-negative autoimmune encephalitis (n = 4), steroid-responsive encephalopathy associated with thyroiditis (SREAT) (n = 2), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-associated encephalitis (n = 1). Most common presenting symptoms included seizures and behavior changes (54%). More than 90% of patients showed improvement following first-line immunotherapy (high-dose corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, and/or plasma exchange). A total of 64% received second-line treatment with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, or mycophenolate mofetil. One patient with NMDAR encephalitis died despite escalating immunotherapy. None of the patients showed complete recovery after median follow-up of 9 months (range 0.5-66). Children with autoimmune encephalitis have a diverse clinical presentation and may lack an identifiable autoantibody. Majority of patients show a good response to immunotherapy; however, recovery can be delayed.
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