Short communication| Volume 334, ISSUE 1-2, P167-168, November 15, 2013

Insights into antibody-associated encephalitis — Bickerstaff's 1950's papers revisited

  • A. Merwick
    Corresponding author at: Department of Neurology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland. Tel.: +44 845 1555000, +44 203456 7890.
    Department of Neurology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland

    Department of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, UK
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  • J. Dalmau
    Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Service of Neurology, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

    Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
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  • N. Delanty
    Department of Neurology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland

    Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
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Published:August 07, 2013DOI:


      Edwin Bickerstaff and Philip Cloake reported in the 1950's three cases of reversible encephalitis. The concept of antibody associated encephalitis had not been proposed at the time they astutely recognized the importance of disease pattern recognition and postulated a potential immune based mechanism. The syndrome defined by Bickerstaff of progressive, external ophthalmoplegia and ataxia, with disturbance of consciousness or hyperreflexia, has subsequently been associated with anti-GQ1b antibodies. Interestingly one of the three original cases, a young woman who developed seizures, an eye movement disorder and acute psychosis while awaiting ovarian cystectomy, has features that may be more consistent with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.


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