"Light switch" mental status changes and irritable insomnia are two particularly salient features of anti-NMDA receptor antibody encephalitis

Allen D. Desena, Benjamin M. Greenberg, Donna Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate antibody encephalitis is becoming increasingly recognized as a cause of acute and subacute encephalopathy in both adults and children. The typical features of this disorder include some degree of encephalopathy, seizures, and often a movement disorder component. However, there is wide variability in its presentation, and diagnosis based on clinical features alone is often delayed. PATIENTS: We report a series of four of 12 patients observed at our children's hospital between 2011 and 2013 that we chose as particularly representative examples of two distinct clinical features. RESULTS: In these individuals with anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibody encephalitis, we note a very rapid on-off state between responsiveness and nonresponsiveness and/or insomnia accompanied by extreme irritability. We describe the abrupt mental status shift as "light switch" because the patients can awaken in seconds from a completely nonresponsive state. The insomnia noted in our patients was also impressive and often present early in the patients' courses. CONCLUSIONS: Light switch mental status changes and irritable insomnia are important early features of anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibody encephalitis that can signal the presence of this disorder. The exact pathophysiology of these two symptoms has not been fully elucidated, and we feel that presence of one or both of these symptoms early in the disease course should prompt immediate concern for this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-153
Number of pages3
JournalPediatric Neurology
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • NMDA
  • autoimmune
  • insomnia
  • mental status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '"Light switch" mental status changes and irritable insomnia are two particularly salient features of anti-NMDA receptor antibody encephalitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this