PANDAS is Autoimmune Encephalitis – World Encephalitis Day is February 22

PANDAS is Autoimmune Encephalitis
-Sue Swedo, MD – ASPIRE Board Member and former Chief of the Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

“Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection or PANDAS can also be called post-streptococcal autoimmune basal ganglia encephalitis. Like other forms of autoimmune encephalitis, PANDAS appears to be caused by aberrant antibodies that were produced to target antigens on the cell wall of the strep bacteria, but cross-react with components of neuronal cells in the caudate, putamen and other crucial brain structures. The misdirected antibodies set off an inflammatory response that interferes with basal ganglia functions, producing a constellation of behavioral, psychiatric and neurologic symptoms. Primary among these are obsessions, compulsions and eating restrictions. These are often accompanied by extreme anxiety, depression, mood swings, behavioral regression, personality changes and neurological symptoms, such as cognitive changes, sensory sensitivities, sleep difficulties and problems with urination. The symptoms often respond to treatment of the underlying strep infection. In other cases, immunomodulatory therapies can reduce brain inflammation and restore the child to full health.”

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