Specific B- and T-cell populations are associated with cognition in patients with epilepsy and antibody positive and negative suspected limbic encephalitis.
Neuropsychological impairments are major symptoms of autoimmune limbic encephalitis (LE) epilepsy patients. In LE epilepsy patients with an autoimmune response against intracellular antigens as well as in antibody-negative patients, the antibody findings and magnetic resonance imaging pathology correspond poorly to the clinical features. Here, we evaluated whether T- and B-cells are linked to cognitive impairment in these groups.In this cross-sectional, observational, case-controlled study, we evaluated 106 patients with adult-onset epilepsies with a suspected autoimmune etiology. We assessed verbal and visual memory, executive function, and mood in relation to the presence or absence of known auto-antibodies, and regarding T- and B-cell activity as indicated by flow cytometry (fluorescence-activated cell sorting = FACS, peripheral blood = PB and cerebrospinal fluid = CSF).56% of the patients were antibody-negative. In the other patients, auto-antibodies were directed against intracellular antigens (GAD65, paraneoplastic: 38%), or cellular surface antigens (LGI1/CASPR2/NMDA-R: 6%). Excluding LGI1/CASPR2/NMDA-R, the groups with and without antibodies did not differ in disease features, cognition, or mood. CD4+ T-cells and CD8+ T-cells in blood and CD4+ T-cells in CSF were prominent in the auto-antibody positive group. Regression analyses indicated the role education, drug load, amygdala and/or hippocampal pathology, and CD4+ T-cells play in verbal memory and executive function. Depressed mood revealed no relation to flow cytometry results.Our results indicate a link between T- and B-cell activity and cognition in epilepsy patients with suspected limbic encephalitis, thus suggesting that flow cytometry results can provide an understanding of cognitive impairment in LE patients with autoantibodies against intracellular antigens.