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Clinical and pathogenic significance of IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies against the NMDA receptor

Makoto Hara, Eugenia Martinez-Hernandez, Helena Ariño, Thais Armangué, Marianna Spatola, Mar Petit-Pedrol, Albert Saiz, Myrna R Rosenfeld, Francesc Graus, Josep Dalmau
Neurology 2018 April 17, 90 (16): e1386-e1394

OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency and clinical relevance of immunoglobulin (Ig)G, IgA, and IgM N -methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antibodies in several diseases, and whether the IgG antibodies occur in disorders other than anti-NMDAR encephalitis.

METHODS: Evaluation of IgG, IgA, and IgM NMDAR antibodies in serum of 300 patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis, stroke, dementia, schizophrenia, or seronegative autoimmune encephalitis. Antibodies and their effect on cultured neurons were examined with cell-based assays and brain and live neuronal immunostaining. Retrospective analysis of the clinical diagnoses of a cohort of 1,147 patients with IgG NMDAR antibodies identified since 2005.

RESULTS: Among the 300 patients studied, IgG NMDAR antibodies were only identified in those with anti-NMDAR encephalitis and all reacted with brain and live neurons. By cell-based assay, IgA or IgM antibodies were detected in 22 of 300 patients (7%) with different diseases, but only 10 (3%) reacted with brain and 7 (2%) with live neurons. In cultured neurons, IgG but not IgA or IgM antibodies caused a decrease of synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDAR. Among the cohort of 1,147 patients with IgG NMDAR antibodies, 1,015 (88.5%) had anti-NMDAR encephalitis, 45 (3.9%) a limited form of the disease, 41 (3.6%) autoimmune post-herpes simplex encephalitis, 37 (3.2%) overlapping syndromes (anti-NMDAR encephalitis and demyelinating disease), and 9 (0.8%) atypical encephalitic syndromes; none had schizophrenia.

CONCLUSIONS: IgG NMDAR antibodies are highly specific for anti-NMDAR encephalitis and cause a decrease of the levels of NMDAR. In contrast, IgA or IgM antibodies occur infrequently and nonspecifically in other diseases and do not alter the receptor levels.


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