Status epilepticus suspected autoimmune: Neuronal surface antibodies and main clinical features



Status epilepticus (SE) can be associated with neuronal surface antibodies (NS-Abs) but NS-Ab detection rate remains unknown in patients with SE of unclear etiology at symptom presentation but suspected of having an autoimmune etiology (SE suspected autoimmune). We aimed to determine the NS-Ab detection rate and the clinical features that predict the presence of NS-Abs in patients with SE suspected autoimmune.


We retrospectively reviewed the clinical information of 137 patients with SE suspected autoimmune who underwent testing for NS-Abs between January 2007 and September 2020. NS-Abs were examined in both serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained at symptom onset with established assays. We classified brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings into unremarkable, autoimmune limbic encephalitis (ALE) (bilateral abnormalities highly restricted to the medial temporal lobes), ALE-Plus (ALE pattern and additional extramedial temporal lobe abnormalities), multifocal cortico-subcortical (MCS), or other pattern. We compared the clinical features between patients with and without NS-Abs.


Forty-four patients (32.1%) had NS-Abs, including 35 N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) (one with concurrent γ-aminobutyric acid B receptor [GABAbR] and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor [AMPAR]), 5 γ-aminobutyric acid A receptor (GABAaR), 2 leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1(LGI1), 1 GABAbR, and 1 unknown antigens. Compared with NS-Ab-negative patients, NS-Ab-positive patients were more likely to have a preceding headache (56.8% vs 26.7%), preceding psychobehavioral or memory alterations (65.9% vs 20.4%), involuntary movements (79.5% vs 16.1%), CSF pleocytosis (81.8% vs 62.0%), elevated immunoglobulin G (IgG) index (45.2% vs 15.6%), oligoclonal bands (51.5% vs 9.5%), tumor (47.7% vs 8.6%), and higher APE2 score (median of 9 vs 7), and they were less likely to have an ALE-Plus pattern (2.3% vs 23.7%). However, preceding fever and ALE or MCS pattern were not different between the two groups of patients.


When an autoimmune etiology was suspected, there was a relatively high likelihood (one of three patients) of identifying NS-Abs. Some clinical features (preceding symptoms, inflammatory CSF) predict a higher likelihood of finding NS-Ab positivity, but the ALE-Plus MRI pattern is more likely suggestive of NS-Ab negativity.