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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Limbic encephalitis

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Limbic encephalitis represents a group of autoimmune conditions characterized by inflammation of the limbic system and other parts of the brain. The cardinal sign of limbic encephalitis is a severe impairment of short-term memory; however, symptoms may also include confusion, psychiatric symptoms, and seizures. The symptoms typically develop over a few weeks or months, but they may evolve over a few days. Limbic encephalitis is often associated with an underlying neoplasm (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis); however some cases never have a neoplasm identified (non-paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis). Delayed diagnosis is common, but improvements are being made to assist in early detection. Various tests including imaging studies (MRI, PET) laboratory tests (CSF analysis), and tests that measure the electrical activity of the brain (EEG) may be utilized to confirm a diagnosis. Treatment includes removal of the neoplasm (if identified) and immunotherapy.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 4/26/2016


  1. Anderson NE, Barber PA. Limbic encephalitis - a review. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. 2008;
  2. Asztely F, Kumlien E.. The diagnosis and treatment of limbic encephalitis. Acta Neurol Scand. Dec 2012; 126(6):365-375.
  3. Dr Sarosh R Irani, Dr Camilla Buckley and Prof Angela Vincent. Limbic Encephalitis. The Encephalitis Society. August 2013;
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Basic Information

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Limbic encephalitis. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.