Refractory Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis in Early Pregnancy: A Case Report of Treatment Course and Pregnancy Outcomes

Sarah Fredrich, Cynthia Wang, Ram Narayan, Lauren Tardo, Kyle M. Blackburn, Steven Vernino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Anti-N-methyl d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis classically affects women of childbearing age, producing a disproportionate number of pregnant women with anti-NMDAR encephalitis. The typical presentation includes progressive neuropsychiatric symptoms, seizures, and alterations in consciousness, all of which present potential risks to the fetus. First-line and second-line treatments similarly pose teratogenic potential; therefore, randomized studies with supportive data on pregnancy and fetal outcomes are lacking. METHODS: We present a case of refractory anti-NMDAR encephalitis during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy with the successful use of rituximab and cyclophosphamide and resultant healthy pregnancy. RESULTS: The patient was treated with an escalating immunotherapy regimen from 11 to 15 weeks of gestation, including steroids, plasma exchange, IV immunoglobulins, and rituximab, with no clinical response. At 16 weeks of gestation, she received cyclophosphamide with clinical improvement after 4 weeks. She subsequently gave birth to a healthy, term baby boy, who continued to do well at the follow-up. DISCUSSION: This case illustrates the effective use of cyclophosphamide in the second trimester of pregnancy for anti-NMDAR encephalitis. The use of second-line therapies remains an individualized decision because the relative risk-to-benefit ratio in pregnant women is incompletely understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeurology(R) neuroimmunology & neuroinflammation
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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