Autoimmune Global Amnesia as Manifestation of AMPAR Encephalitis and Neuropathologic Findings

Objective

To report an unusual clinical phenotype of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) encephalitis and describe associated neuropathologic findings.

Methods

We retrospectively investigated 3 AMPAR encephalitis patients with autoimmune global hippocampal amnesia using comprehensive cognitive and neuropsychologic assessment, antibody testing by in-house tissue-based and cell-based assays, and neuropathologic analysis of brain autopsy tissue including histology and immunohistochemistry.

Results

Three patients presented with acute-to-subacute global amnesia without affection of cognitive performance, attention, concentration, or verbal function. None of the patients had epileptic seizures, change of behavior, personality changes, or psychiatric symptoms. The MRI was normal in 1 patient and showed increased fluid-attenuated inversion recovery/T2 signal in the hippocampus in the other 2 patients. Two patients showed complete remission after immunotherapy. The one patient who did not improve had an underlying adenocarcinoma of the lung and died 3.5 months after disease onset because of tumor progression. Neuropathologic analysis of the brain autopsy revealed unilateral hippocampal sclerosis accompanied by mild inflammatory infiltrates, predominantly composed of T lymphocytes, and decrease of AMPAR immunoreactivity.

Conclusion

AMPAR antibodies usually associate with limbic encephalitis but may also present with immune responsive, acute-to-subacute, isolated hippocampal dysfunction without overt inflammatory CSF or MRI changes.

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