An editorial written by Robert Lisak, M.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine professor of Neurology and of Immunology and Microbiology, is featured in the Sept. 12 issue of JAMA Neurology.
“Expanding the Range of Diagnosable Autoimmune Encephalopathies and Encephalomyelopathies” is available at 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.2970, along with comments on research from Vanda Lennon, M.D., and colleagues from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who identified an autoantibody to glial fibrillary acidic protein associated with relapsing autoimmune meningoencephalomyelitis that is responsive to immunotherapy.
Encephalomyelitis is a general term for inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, often due to an acute viral infection.
The journal article’s findings have immediate clinical implications, specifically the strong correlation of the pattern of immunofluourescent staining of animal model brain sections and the areas of involvement in the patients as demonstrated by MRI scans, Dr. Lisak told Reuters Health.
“If a physician sees a patient with the clinical features of the encephalomyelitis described in the report by Dr. Lennon and her colleagues who has the appropriate MRI and spinal fluid findings, they should strongly suspect their patient has this immune-mediated disorder and treat with corticosteroids and/or other immunosuppressive treatments,” he said.
He also explained that physicians are likely to see additional disorders proven to be immune-mediated and likely autoimmune etiology.
“I am looking forward to the analysis of additional patients by Dr. Lennon and her colleagues who have this antibody to the epsilon isoform of glial acidic fibrillary protein, as well as to their making antibody testing for this antibody available to the neurologic community,” he said.