To update and evaluate long-term seizure outcomes in patients with autoimmune encephalitis (AE) based on a large cohort study with long follow-up.
In this prospective observational registry study, we analyzed data from patients with AE mediated by common types of neuronal surface antibodies (anti-NMDAR, anti-LGI1/Caspr2, anti-GABABR). All patients were recruited from the Department of Neurology at the West China Hospital between October 2011 and June 2019, and data were collected prospectively on their demographic and clinical characteristics, treatment strategy, and seizure outcomes with a median follow-up of 42 months (range 6–93 months). Potential risk factors associated with seizure recurrence were also assessed.
Of 320 AE patients, 75.9% had acute seizures, among whom more than 90% of patients had their last seizure within 12 months of disease onset. During our follow-up, 21 (9.3%) patients experienced seizure recurrence. Patients with anti-GABABR encephalitis had a higher cumulative incidence of seizure recurrence than those with anti-NMDAR (log-rank P = 0.03) or anti-LGI1/Caspr2 encephalitis (log-rank P = 0.04). Among patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis, women had a significantly higher cumulative incidence of seizure recurrence than men (log-rank P = 0.01). Interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) or seizures captured on continuous EEG in the acute phase were identified as potential risk factors for seizure recurrence (P=0.04; P=0.007). Among 163 patients with ≥ 24 months of follow-up, five (3.1%) showed persistent seizures and required ongoing anti-seizure medications (ASMs) despite aggressive immunotherapy.
Seizure recurrence occurred in a small number of patients and chronic epilepsy occurred in 3.1% of patients during prolonged follow-up. Across all types of AE, risk factors for seizure recurrence were IEDs or seizures captured on EEG in the acute phase; for anti-NMDAR encephalitis, female sex was also a risk factor.