Anti-NMDA-receptor antibody encephalitis: Performance evaluation and laboratory experience with the anti-NMDA-receptor IgG assay

Brenda B. Suh-Lailam, Thomas R. Haven, Susan S. Copple, Diana Knapp, Troy D. Jaskowski, Anne E. Tebo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background: Antibodies targeting the NR1 subunit of the N-methyl-. d-aspartate-receptor (NMDAR) are considered diagnostic for a novel form of autoimmune encephalitis. We report the validation of a qualitative indirect immunofluorescence antibody (IFA) test for the detection of anti-NMDAR IgG and describe the attributes of antibody-positive patients. Methods: The anti-NMDAR IgG assay (Euroimmun Diagnosika, Lübeck, Germany) was validated with serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens from 30 healthy and 50 disease controls as well as 5 anti-NMDAR IgG-positive individuals. Consecutive specimens (n= 1671) for anti-NMDAR IgG antibodies were evaluated and positive specimens titrated to end-point [starting dilutions: CSF; 1:1 and serum; 1:10]. In a subset of antibody-positive patients, we sought clinical information for correlation with diagnostic and treatment outcomes. Results: The assay demonstrated excellent performance characteristics in all groups evaluated. Of the 1671 specimens tested, 1389 were unique cases with a positivity rate of 9.0% (n= 123). For the antibody-positive samples, the female to male ratio was 2:1 with a prevalence of 46% in the pediatric population (≤. 17. years). Antibody titers were titrated to end-point for 106/123 specimens [45 CSF, 41 sera, and 20 CSF and serum pairs] with more than 75% having titers greater than 1:10 (CSF) and 1:20 (serum). Overall, high levels of these antibodies showed correlation to disease severity with variable response to treatment in the subset of patients evaluated. Conclusion: Our data suggests a high prevalence for anti-NMDAR antibody encephalitis irrespective of age and gender in our unselected disease cohort with support for measuring antibody titers in the evaluation of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalClinica Chimica Acta
StatePublished - Jun 5 2013


  • Antibodies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Diagnosis
  • Encephalitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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