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Misdirected Autoimmune Antibodies Found in Children with PANDAS/PANS

A Yale study of 27 children provides critical evidence that PANDAS/PANS is a type of autoimmune encephalitis.

Testing for autoimmune antibodies is one part of making a PANDAS/PANS diagnosis, and a study found misdirected autoimmune antibodies in the brains of children who have had PANDAS.  These antibodies irritate and bind to specific neurons in the brain that are often found elevated in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or Tourette’s syndrome.

The 27 children were rigorously characterized PANDAS, both at baseline and after IVIG treatment. These autoimmune antibodies are not yet identified for clinical diagnoses and will continue to be investigated. 

Eleven of the children received Intravenous immunoglobulin treatment (IVIG); the presence of antibodies diminished, and OCD symptoms improved after treatment.

This indicates that an infectious reaction caused the elevation in antibodies. However, the study included a small number of patients, so a larger study needs to be done. This is a vital, critical first step to show that PANDAS is a type of post-infectious autoimmune encephalitis.

Antibodies From Children With PANDAS Bind Specifically to Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons and Alter Their Activity