Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis: a review of mechanistic studies

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NMDA receptors (NMDARs) are ion channels gated by glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Anti-NMDA receptor (anti-NMDAR) encephalitis is an autoimmune disease characterized by the presence of autoantibodies against the NMDAR GluN1 subunit. Here we briefly review current advances in the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of anti-NMDAR encephalitis. The autoantibodies bind to and cross-link the endogenous NMDARs, disrupt the interaction of NMDARs with receptor tyrosine kinase EphB2 leading to internalization and reduced function of NMDARs. Hypofunction of the NMDARs results in impairment in long-term potentiation and deficit in learning and memory, leads to development of depression-like behavior, and lowers the threshold for seizures. Recent development of active immunization models of anti-NMDAR encephalitis provides insight into the inflammation process and paves the way for further studies that may lead to better treatment.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational J Physiology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • NMDA receptors
  • encephalitis
  • autoimmune antibodies


  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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