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Curr Psychiatry Rev. 2011;7(3):189-193.

Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis in Psychiatry.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA ; Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Spain.


Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies attack NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate)-type glutamate receptors at central neuronal synapses. Symptoms include a highly characteristic set of neurologic deficits, but also prominent psychiatric manifestations that often bring mental health professionals into the course of care. Distinct phases of illness have become increasingly appreciated, and include a range of psychotic symptoms early in the course of the disease followed by more severe fluctuations in consciousness with neurologic involvement, and ultimately protracted cognitive and behavioral deficits. Young women are most commonly impacted and an ovarian teratoma is sometimes associated with the syndrome. Patients respond well to immunotherapy, but psychiatric symptoms can be challenging to manage. We provide an up to date review of this disorder and highlight the role of psychiatry in diagnosis, symptomatology, and treatment.


NMDA receptor; autoimmune; paraneoplastic; schizophrenia; synapse

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