Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) is a neurologic disorder in which the immune system attacks the brain, causing a spectrum of symptoms that typically progress over several weeks to several months.
The symptoms may include:
- Progressive memory impairment
- Sudden unexpected personality changes
- Unusual behaviors
- Abnormal movements
- and many others
Different types of autoimmune encephalitis exist, and each one of them has a unique presentation and rate of progression. Because autoimmune encephalitis onset can frequently mimic primary psychiatric disorders, the diagnosis can often be challenging.
Autoimmune encephalitis at times can be associated with an underlying cancer, in which case it is called paraneoplastic. In these cases, finding and treating the underlying malignancy is critically important.