Neuropsychiatric Manifestations of Pediatric NMDA Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis: A Case Series From a Tertiary Care Center in India

Forgot your login? GET HELP

Objective: Although psychiatric manifestations are one of the most common presentations of pediatric N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis, there is a lack of studies that characterize psychiatric aspects of this disorder. This study was designed to address this gap.

Methods: Initial clinical presentations including psychiatric symptoms, treatment details, and outcome with respect to psychiatric symptoms were collected from medical case records of children aged less than 18 years with seropositive NMDAR encephalitis from a single tertiary care center (May 2010–November 2016). The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale for Children (BPRS-C) was administered at the time of presentation and at follow-up.

Results: Clinical records from 16 girls and 5 boys of whom 12 were prepubertal (< 12 years) and 9 were postpubertal ( 12 years) were analyzed. All 21 children presented with psychiatric symptoms at initial presentation. In 10 children (47.6%), psychiatric symptom was the first symptom. Major psychiatric symptoms included inappropriate crying (most common, 66.7%, n = 14), social withdrawal (57.1%, n = 12), unprovoked anger outburst (47.6%, n = 10), unprovoked screaming behavior (38.1%, n = 8), and talking to self irrelevantly (42.9%, n = 9). In addition to psychiatric symptoms, at least 1 of the following was also seen in all children: speech disturbance (85.7%, n = 18), seizure (85.7%, n = 18), or movement disorder (76.2%, n = 16). Mood symptoms (85.7%, n = 18) were the most common psychopathology. A comorbid psychiatric diagnosis (ICD-10 criteria) was made in 11 children (52.4%); the most common was organic mood disorder (n = 6). The mean BPRS-C score at presentation in prepubertal children was higher than that of postpubertal children (21 vs 17). After immune modulation, clinical improvement was noted after a mean ± SD of 7.4 ± 4.8 months in all 20 children followed up. Three of the 4 children with residual psychiatric symptoms and persistent academic difficulties were prepubertal.

Conclusions: Psychiatric manifestations that are usually mood related are quite common in pediatric NMDAR encephalitis. Prepubertal presentation of this disorder appears to be more severe and may lead to persistent psychiatric and cognitive symptoms.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2017;19(4):17m02110