To analyze the frequency of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antibodies in patients with various inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the CNS and to determine their clinical correlates.
Retrospective case-control study from 2005 to 2014 with the detection of serum IgG antibodies to NMDAR, aquaporin-4, and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein by recombinant live cell-based immunofluorescence assays. Fifty-one patients with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, 41 with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders, 34 with clinically isolated syndrome, and 89 with multiple sclerosis (MS) were included. Due to a known association of NMDAR antibodies with seizures and behavioral symptoms, patients with those clinical manifestations were preferentially included and are therefore overrepresented in our cohort. Nine patients with NMDAR encephalitis, 94 patients with other neurologic diseases, and 48 healthy individuals were used as controls.
NMDAR antibodies were found in all 9 patients with NMDAR encephalitis but in only 1 of 215 (0.5%) patients with inflammatory demyelination and in none of the controls. This patient had relapsing-remitting MS with NMDAR antibodies present at disease onset, with an increase in NMDAR antibody titer with the onset of psychiatric symptoms and cognitive deficits.
In demyelinating disorders, NMDAR antibodies are uncommon, even in those with symptoms seen in NMDAR encephalitis.