What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations or delusions, but often presents with a number of different and varied symptoms.
More information can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Contact your GP if you think you or someone you know are having psychotic experiences.
What is encephalitis?
Encephalitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the brain.
Encephalitis usually begins with flu-like symptoms, and can go on to present with changes in mental state,seizures or changes in personality and behaviour.
There are a number of causes of encephalitis, of which one is an autoimmune response. This can be to tumors or normal body tissue.
What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease occurs when a person's immune system begins to respond to normal bodily substances and tissues as if it were foreign or pathogenic.
There are many know autoimmune disorders that can affect different bodily fluids and tissue. They can usually be treated with immunotherapy - where the immune system is supresse to stop the autoimmune response.
What are NMDAR and VGKC antibodies?
NMDA-r stands for 'N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor'. This is a receptor in the brain that is specific to the neurotransmitter glutamate.
VGKC stands for 'voltage gated potassium channel complex' antibodies (including to LGI1). These channels regulate the
membrane potential and thus help control neurotransmitter release.
Recent studies have shown that there are autoimmune diseases that produce antibodies to specifically target parts of NMDA receptors and VGK channels and disrupt their function.
Our PPiP study is investigating how commonly these antibodies are present in patients experiencing psychosis.
Our SINAPPS clinical trial will investigate whether patients experiencing psychosis who are positive for these antibodies get better after being treated with immunotherapy.
What is antibody-mediated psychosis?
The latest research suggests that 9% of people with psychosis have antibodies in their blood which could be the cause of their illness.
Our immune system normally protects us against infections. It does this by making antibodies which fight incoming infections. Antibodies are proteins which the body makes to fight infections. However, for a very small number of people, some antibodies (called anti-neuronal antibodies) start to attack healthy brain tissue causing swelling. This can result in symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and paranoid feelings. There is some evidence that getting rid of these antibodies may improve the symptoms of psychosis.
Antibody mediated psychosis is very similar to a condition called encephalitis. The conditions are so similar that some believe that antibody mediated psychosis might be a specific type of encephalitis (the term ‘anti-NMDA encephalitis is sometimes used in place of ‘antibody mediated psychosis).
(extracted from Antibody Mediated Psychosis information and resources from the public, The McPin Foundation)