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Encephalitis lethargica (EL) describes an encephalitis with psychiatric, sleep, and extrapyramidal movement disorders. Dyskinetic and parkinsonian forms have been described. EL shares clinical features with the anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR-Ab) encephalitis. We studied 20 sera from pediatric patients with contemporary EL. Ten sera (from 2 males and 8 females, aged 1.3-13 years) and 6/6 cerebrospinal fluid samples were positive for NMDAR-Ab. NMDAR-Ab-positive patients had dyskinesias, agitation, seizures, and insomnia, whereas parkinsonism and somnolence dominated in the NMDAR-Ab-negative children. We were unable to identify any tumors. The dyskinetic form of EL is an NMDAR-Ab encephalitis and can affect very young children.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Neurol

Publication Date





704 - 709


Adolescent, Autoantibodies, Binding Sites, Antibody, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Neurons, Parkinson Disease, Postencephalitic, Phenotype, Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate