Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor encephalitis: cognitive profile in two children.
Iadisernia E., Battaglia FM., Vanadia E., Trapolino E., Vincent A., Biancheri R.
BACKGROUND: Anti-N-Methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis is an autoimmune disorder associated with antibodies against NMDAR resulting in a characteristic neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by seizures, dyskinesias, and cognitive impairment. The extent and specific tasks associated with cognitive dysfunction in anti-NMDAR encephalitis have not been fully investigated. AIMS: To describe cognitive and neuropsychological profile in two children with anti-NMDAR encephalitis. METHODS: Clinical, laboratory, cognitive and neuropsychological assessments have been performed. Cognitive functions have been evaluated one year after the disease onset, at age 4 years and 10 months in one patient and at age 5 years and 5 months in the other subject. The first patient has been re-assessed one year after the first evaluation. RESULTS: Both children, who were reported to be normal before disease onset, showed a severe neurological impairment during the acute phase of disease with progressive substantial recovery following treatment. Selective and prolonged attention, activation and integration of semantic information and verbal fluency were particularly impaired. Significant improvements were observed at neuropsychological re-assessment. CONCLUSIONS: Executive dysfunction seems to be the "core" of the neuropsychological profile of children with anti-NMDAR encephalitis. Cognitive abilities may be, at least to some extent, recovered providing that immunomodulatory treatment and specific psychomotor and pedagogical therapy are started soon after disease onset.