Rare Encephalitis Affects NMDA Receptor

October 14, 2011 · Posted in Neurochemistry 
NMDA

NMDA

At the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) in October 2010, Nadine Schwartz reported that in a rare type of encephalitis, antibodies specifically target and bind to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, the major receptors for excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. Individuals usually develop psychiatric symptoms before neurological ones, and were previously often thought to be malingering or inventing their illness. Eventually they may develop profound cognitive and motor deterioration and many may require treatment in an intensive care unit in order to provide adequate respiration. Studies show that children with this syndrome appear to respond to anti-immune therapeutic approaches including steroids, plasmaphoresis, and antimetabolites.

Editor’s Note:  The recognition that auto-antibodies can attack the major receptors for excitatory neurotransmission in brain brings to light another potential mechanism that could explain neurochemical dysregulation in the neuropsychiatric disorders.

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