Donate to Autoimmune Encephalitis Research, Patient Care and Education

Autoimmune encephalitis is a neurological disorder that attacks the brain. Patients with autoimmune encephalitis deal with various symptoms and problems that hinder their quality of life. A donation to Northwestern Medicine will help provide and improve treatment options for those dealing with this disorder.

It is possible that autoimmune encephalitis is caused by some sort of infection, but in many cases the exact cause is unknown. To complicate diagnosis and treatments, autoimmune encephalitis can affect different areas of the brain. Depending on which area is affected, the symptoms can vary wildly over the course of weeks or months.

Symptoms of this disorder include progressive memory impairment, paranoia, unusual behaviors, sudden and unexpected personality changes, hallucinations, seizures and abnormal movements. Different types of autoimmune encephalitis exist and each of these types is unique to itself in presentation and the rate of progression. The onset and symptoms of autoimmune encephalitis closely mimic some psychiatric disorders, making an accurate diagnosis quite challenging. Additionally, autoimmune encephalitis can also be a sign of an underlying cancer, called paraneoplastic syndrome. If a patient has this type of cancer, finding and treating the underlying malignancy is crucial.

It is important to note autoimmune encephalitis is an extremely serious and severe condition. The mortality rate of autoimmune encephalitis hovers around six percent. Quickly diagnosing and effectively treating autoimmune encephalitis allows many patients to recover most, if not all, of their functions. Even with rapid detection and treatment, there is still a chance patients will have persistent symptoms that can have a negative impact on their ability to function. Northwestern Medicine physicians have various treatment plans they follow to treat autoimmune encephalitis. These treatments include:


  • The removal of a teratoma, a tumor made up of many tissue types, that may cause an autoimmune response
  • Plasma or plasmapheresis exchange that removes harmful antibodies from the blood
  • Steroids that reduce inflammation and immune response
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) that increases the removal of antibodies, inhibits the ability of the antibodies to bind together, and decreases the inflammatory response to antibodies

If these treatments fail to alleviate the symptoms, physicians may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs in an effort to relieve symptoms.

Patients will be treated at Northwestern Medicine’s Autoimmune Encephalitis and Paraneoplastic Disorders Clinic. This clinic uses a multidisciplinary approach to both diagnosing and treating this disorder. Expert physicians will best diagnosis and develop a treatment plan through extensive testing. Your donation maintains our high standard for care and helps us treat autoimmune encephalitis with advanced methods.

Autoimmune Encephalitis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

A donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will go toward developing treatment plans for patients with this disorder. Autoimmune encephalitis is a severe condition that requires the best treatment and care. Even with early detection and treatment, patients may still have difficulty recovering. Your donation to autoimmune encephalitis goes towards researching better diagnostic and treatment methods. With your help, Northwestern Medicine can work to provide hope for patients with autoimmune encephalitis.

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