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BACKGROUND: Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) is an important consideration during the diagnostic work-up of secondary mental disorders. Indeed, isolated psychiatric syndromes have been described in case reports of patients with underlying AE. Therefore, the authors performed a systematic literature review of published cases with AE that have predominant psychiatric/neurocognitive manifestations. The aim of this paper is to present the clinical characteristics of these patients. METHODS: The authors conducted a systematic Medline search via Ovid, looking for case reports/series of AEs with antineuronal autoantibodies (Abs) against cell surface/intracellular antigens combined with predominant psychiatric/neurocognitive syndromes. The same was done for patients with Hashimoto encephalopathy/SREAT. Only patients with signs of immunological brain involvement or tumors in their diagnostic investigations or improvement under immunomodulatory drugs were included. RESULTS: We identified 145 patients with AE mimicking predominant psychiatric/neurocognitive syndromes. Of these cases, 64% were female, and the mean age among all patients was 43.9 (±22.1) years. Most of the patients had Abs against neuronal cell surface antigens (55%), most frequently against the NMDA-receptor (N = 46). Amnestic/dementia-like (39%) and schizophreniform (34%) syndromes were the most frequently reported. Cerebrospinal fluid changes were found in 78%, electroencephalography abnormalities in 61%, and magnetic resonance imaging pathologies in 51% of the patients. Immunomodulatory treatment was performed in 87% of the cases, and 94% of the patients responded to treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that AEs can mimic predominant psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders, such as schizophreniform psychoses or neurodegenerative dementia, and that affected patients can be treated successfully with immunomodulatory drugs.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date



1 - 12


Autoantibody, autoimmune encephalitis, autoimmune psychosis, dementia, immunological encephalopathy, schizophrenia