The Lancet publishes first broadly accepted criteria for diagnosing autoimmune encephalitis

February 22, 2016

Today The Lancet released an important paper from Dr. Dalmau et al., providing the first broadly accepted criteria for diagnosing autoimmune encephalitis. Included in the paper are guidelines for diagnosing anti-body negative AE, a frustratingly difficult subset of AE cases to diagnose and thus treat.

Many of the paper’s authors attended the International Symposium on Autoimmune Encephalitis held in Durham, NC, organized and hosted by the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance.  This symposium lead to follow-up discussions to develop guidance and criteria for diagnosing AE. As one author of the Lancet paper commented, “The AE Alliance’s symposium got many of the contributor’s juices flowing….” To view the report from the symposium visit Discussions, Conclusions, and Next Steps .

The paper released today titled, “A clinical approach to the diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis” is available free today (note that The Lancet may require creation of an account (which is also free) to view the entire paper. After today there may be a fee to view the paper. Highlights from the paper include:

  1. Review of last 10 years of research revealing new syndromes and biomarkers
  2. How antibody testing may delay diagnosis
  3. The aim of developing a practical, syndrome-based diagnostic approach and providing guidelines to navigate through the differential diagnosis
  4. Basis of initial diagnostics on neurological assessment and conventional tests that are accessible to most clinicians

While no single paper will ensure all patients receive a correct and timely diagnosis, this paper is a major step towards improving AE care. We encourage all patients to share it with their doctors and for all doctors to share it with their colleagues.

On this World Encephalitis Day we are celebrating that more patients will be rapidly diagnosed leading to appropriate and timely treatment.  When AE patients are diagnosed and treated quickly, they can fully recover.  Thank you Lancet, Dr. Dalmau, and all the clinicians involved with this paper for helping make all families and patients with autoimmune encephalitis a little more hopeful today.