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Can J Neurol Sci. 2018 Sep;45(5):540-544. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2018.33. Epub 2018 Jun 25.

Long-Term Cognitive Outcomes in Patients with Autoimmune Encephalitis.

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1Division of Neurology,University of Toronto,Toronto,Ontario,Canada.
2Knight Alzheimer Disease Center,Department of Neurology,Washington University in St. Louis,Saint Louis,MO,USA.
3Epilepsy Center,Neurological Institute,Cleveland Clinic Foundation,Cleveland,OH,USA.
4Division of Neurology,University of Toronto,Toronto Western Hospital,Toronto,Canada.



A need exists to characterise the long-term cognitive outcomes in patients who recovered from autoimmune encephalitis and to identify the modifiable factors associated with improved outcomes.


We retrospectively analysed data from patients diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis in our outpatient autoimmune encephalitis clinic over a 5-year period, where the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is routinely administered.


In total, 21 patients met the inclusion criteria, of whom 52% had persistent cognitive impairment at their latest follow-up (median delay to testing=20 months, range 13-182). Visuospatial and executive abilities, language, attention, and delayed recall were predominantly affected. Patients with status epilepticus at presentation had lower total MoCA scores at their last follow-up (median total score 21, range 15-29) compared with patients without status epilepticus at presentation (median total score 27.5, range 21-30; r 2=0.366, p=0.004). Patients who experienced delays of more than 60 days from symptom onset to initiation of treatment (either immunosuppression or tumour removal) were more likely to have a MoCA score compatible with cognitive impairment at their last follow-up (r 2=0.253, p=0.0239; z-score=-2.01, p=0.044).


Our study suggests that the MoCA may be used to evaluate cognition in recovering patients with autoimmune encephalitis. Delays to treatment shorter than 60 days and absence of status epilepticus at onset were associated with better performance on the MoCA obtained more than 1 year after symptom onset, and may predict better long-term cognitive outcomes.


Autoimmune encephalitis; Cognitive outcomes; Montreal Cognitive Assessment


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