Neural Antibody Testing in Patients with Suspected Autoimmune Encephalitis

Adrian Budhram, DIvyanshu Dubey, Elia Sechi, Eoin P. Flanagan, Liju Yang, Vipin Bhayana, Andrew McKeon, Sean J. Pittock, John R. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Autoimmunity is an increasingly recognized cause of encephalitis with a similar prevalence to that of infectious etiologies. Over the past decade there has been a rapidly expanding list of antibody biomarker discoveries that have aided in the identification and characterization of autoimmune encephalitis. As the number of antibody biomarkers transitioning from the research setting into clinical laboratories has accelerated, so has the demand and complexity of panel-based testing. Clinical laboratories are increasingly involved in discussions related to test utilization and providing guidance on which testing methodologies provide the best clinical performance. Content: To ensure optimal clinical sensitivity and specificity, comprehensive panel-based reflexive testing based on the predominant neurological phenotypic presentation (e.g., encephalopathy) is ideal in the workup of cases of suspected autoimmune neurological disease. Predictive scores based on the clinical workup can aid in deciding when to order a test. Testing of both CSF and serum is recommended with few exceptions. Appropriate test ordering and interpretation requires an understanding of both testing methodologies and performance of antibody testing in different specimen types. Summary: This review discusses important considerations in the design and selection of neural antibody testing methodologies and panels. Increased collaboration between pathologists, laboratorians, and neurologists will lead to improved utilization of complex autoimmune neurology antibody testing panels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1496-1509
Number of pages14
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Autoimmune encephalitis
  • autoimmune neurology
  • encephalopathy
  • neural antibody testing
  • paraneoplastic neurological syndrome
  • test utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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