Autism Awareness Day, April 2

There is emerging evidence of a connection between autoimmune encephalitis (AE) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Multiple reports have described the presentation of ASD and/or autistic features in cases of diagnosed AE. For a recent update on this, please read the review from Whiteley et al. The concept of “acquired autism” refers to the hypothesis that amongst the massive heterogeneity that encompasses ASD there may be several phenotypes that are neither syndromic nor innate. Strong and consistent evidence has linked exposure to various pharmacological and infective agents with an elevated risk of a diagnosis of ASD including maternal valproate use, rubella and herpes encephalitis. Autoimmune encephalitis describes a group of conditions characterised by the body's immune system mounting an attack on healthy brain cells causing brain inflammation. The resultant cognitive, psychiatric and neurological symptoms that follow AE have also included ASD or autism-like traits and states. Where autism is accompanied by regression and atypical onset patterns, it may be prudent to investigate whether a differential diagnosis of AE would be more appropriate.

AE can be diagnosed using a Cunningham Panel from Moleculera Labs. As a reminder, The Cunningham Panel™ helps clinicians identify whether a patient’s neurologic and/or psychiatric symptoms may be due to an infection-triggered basal ganglia encephalitis (BGE), which includes autoimmune neuropsychiatric syndromes such as PANS/PANDAS. Symptoms of BGE can mimic various mental illnesses. An abundant literature evidence the usefulness of this test and possible therapeutic options [see some recent papers attached].

Since 2022 European customers (outside UK) can order it from R.E.D. Laboratories [ Email to].

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