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Department ofBiology


Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis: A Case of Psychosis Resulting from Autoimmune Dysfunction

Hannah Wiest, Christelle Sabatier

Faculty Mentor: Christelle Sabatier

Anti-NMDA-receptor-encephalitis is a form of autoimmune encephalitis that targets NMDA receptors in the brain. This disease presents with symptoms that evolve from psychiatric manifestations, to neurological complications, ending with potentially severe cognitive deficits. Overall, it appears that young women have a higher susceptibility, but in reality everyone has the potential to develop this disease. Delayed diagnosis of this disease has been found to correlate with greater severity and duration of cognitive deficits during recovery. Therefore, the sooner this disease is detected, the sooner treatment can begin, and the less severe the potential for prolonged deficits. Rates of misdiagnosis are uncommonly high due to the fact that so many are diagnosed with psychiatric disorders as a result of the early stage symptoms. Unfortunately, because recovery from this disease depends on early detection, this misdiagnosis can prove to be fatal. In order to to find ways to more quickly diagnosis this disease, its neurological basis must first be understood. Since little is known regarding the cause of this disease, the goal of this case study will be to discuss current research on the neurological mechanisms of impairment in anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. Hopefully, understanding the neural basis of diseases like anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis will pave the way for further research into illnesses that exhibit symptoms of psychosis.