Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) occurs when healthy cells and tissues in the brain or spinal cord are attacked by the body’s immune system, leading to inflammation. AE is a collection of conditions and some types, such as ADEM, can be caused by an infection while other forms are associated with finding specific antibodies in the blood. In most cases, it remains unknown why these antibodies are produced, while in other cases it may be due to the presence of a tumor.
ADEM causes brief but widespread inflammation and demyelination (white matter tissue damage) of the brain and spinal cord. Unfortunately, reviewing the existing medical literature on the topic can prove challenging, given that different terms have been used to describe and define the disorder. “Typically, ADEM is considered a monophasic disorder, which is a disorder that has a single occurrence of one phase in a particular individual.” However, there is confusion over whether symptomatic recurrences are relapses of ADEM or if they are instead the presentation of other diseases with similar symptoms, such as multiple sclerosis.