Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Autoimmune neurological disorders are commonly treated with immunosuppressive therapy. In patients with refractory conditions, standard immunosuppression is often insufficient for complete recovery or to prevent relapses. These patients rely on other treatments to manage their disease. While treatment of refractory cases differs between diseases, intravenous immunoglobulin, plasma exchange (PLEX), and immune-modulating treatments are commonly used. In this review, we focus on five autoimmune neurological disorders that were the themes of the 2018 Midlands Neurological Society meeting on PLEX in refractory neurology: Autoimmune Encephalitis (AE), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum disorders (NMOSD), Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) and Myasthenia Gravis (MG). The diagnosis of inflammatory neuropathies is often challenging, and while PLEX can be very effective in refractory autoimmune diseases, its ineffectiveness can be confounded by misdiagnosis. One example is POEMS syndrome (characterized by Polyneuropathy Organomegaly, Endocrinopathy, Myeloma protein, Skin changes), which is often wrongly diagnosed as CIDP; and while CIDP responds well to PLEX, POEMS does not. Accurate diagnosis is therefore essential. Success rates can also differ within 'one' disease: e.g. response rates to PLEX are considerably higher in refractory relapsing remitting MS compared to primary or secondary progressive MS. When sufficient efforts are made to correctly pinpoint the diagnosis along with the type and subtype of refractory autoimmune disease, PLEX and other immunotherapies can play a valuable role in the patient management.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuroimmune Pharmacol

Publication Date



Autoimmune Encephalitis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Neuromyelitis Optica, Plasma exchange