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Objective: Differentiating forms of autoimmune encephalitis (AE) from other causes of seizures helps expedite immunotherapies in AE patients and informs studies regarding their contrasting pathophysiology. We aimed to investigate whether and how Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics could differentiate AE from drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), and stratify AE subtypes. Methods: This study recruited 238 patients: 162 with DRE and 76 AE, including 27 with contactin-associated protein-like 2 (CASPR2), 29 with leucine-rich glioma inactivated 1 (LGI1) and 20 with N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antibodies. Plasma samples across the groups were analyzed using NMR spectroscopy and compared with multivariate statistical techniques, such as orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA). Results: The OPLS-DA model successfully distinguished AE from DRE patients with a high predictive accuracy of 87.0 ± 3.1% (87.9 ± 3.4% sensitivity and 86.3 ± 3.6% specificity). Further, pairwise OPLS-DA models were able to stratify the three AE subtypes. Plasma metabolomic signatures of AE included decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL, −(CH2)n−, –CH3), phosphatidylcholine and albumin (lysyl moiety). AE subtype-specific metabolomic signatures were also observed, with increased lactate in CASPR2, increased lactate, glucose, and decreased unsaturated fatty acids (UFA, –CH2CH=) in LGI1, and increased glycoprotein A (GlycA) in NMDAR-antibody patients. Interpretation: This study presents the first non-antibody-based biomarker for differentiating DRE, AE and AE subtypes. These metabolomics signatures underscore the potential relevance of lipid metabolism and glucose regulation in these neurological disorders, offering a promising adjunct to facilitate the diagnosis and therapeutics.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

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