Objective Non-herpetic acute limbic encephalitis (non-herpetic ALE) is regarded as a new subgroup of limbic encephalitis. In the present study, clinical findings and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytokines in patients with non-herpetic ALE were investigated.
Patients and Methods For adult inpatients in our hospital and related hospitals from 1996 to 2001, non-herpetic ALE was examined according to the criteria described in this study. Six patients were diagnosed as having non-herpetic ALE, and their clinical data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were analyzed. In the CSF samples of the 6 patients with non-herpetic ALE and 6 patients with herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE), the concentrations of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and interferon (IFN)-γ were determined using sandwich-type enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits.
Results The six patients with non-herpetic ALE showed all the acute encephalitis features, such as fever, altered consciousness, seizures, memory impairment, and mild CSF pleocytosis. MRI demonstrated selective abnormal signals in the limbic system, including the bilateral hippocampi and amygdalae. The levels of CSF IL-6 and IFN-γ in patients with non-herpetic ALE were significantly lower than those in patients with HSE (p<0.05 and p<0.01, respectively). The levels of both TNF-α and IL-1β were below the detection limits in both groups.
Conclusion Six patients were newly diagnosed as having non-herpetic ALE in this study. These patients revealed both acute limbic encephalitis and MRI abnormalities in the bilateral hippocampi and amygdalae. The levels of IL-6 and IFN-γ in the CSF of patients with non-herpetic ALE were significantly lower than those of patients with HSE, possibly reflecting an immunological process in this type of ALE rather than direct viral infection.
2004 by The Japanese Society of Internal Medicine