Autoimmune Encephalitis and Its Relation to Infection

Arun Venkatesan, David R. Benavides

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Encephalitis, an inflammatory condition of the brain that results in substantial morbidity and mortality, has numerous causes. Over the past decade, it has become increasingly recognized that autoimmune conditions contribute significantly to the spectrum of encephalitis causes. Clinical suspicion and early diagnosis of autoimmune etiologies are of particular importance due to the need for early institution of immune suppressive therapies to improve outcome. Emerging clinical observations suggest that the most commonly recognized cause of antibody-mediated autoimmune encephalitis, anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis, may in some cases be triggered by herpes virus infection. Other conditions such as Rasmussen’s encephalitis (RE) and febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome (FIRES) have also been posited to be autoimmune conditions triggered by infectious agents. This review focuses on emerging concepts in central nervous system autoimmunity and addresses clinical and mechanistic findings linking autoimmune encephalitis and infections. Particular consideration will be given to anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and its relation to herpes simplex encephalitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent neurology and neuroscience reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • Anti-NMDA receptor antibodies
  • Autoimmune encephalopathy
  • CNS autoimmunity
  • Molecular mimicry
  • Rasmussen’s syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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