Human brain may be looked as three part system. The first part is the brain stem, responsible for attention, arousal and our consciousness, but also the breathing process, heart function control of body temperature and sleep wake cycle. Around the stem is the “limbic brain”, consisted of: thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. Limbic brain affects our memory and human behavior when it comes to sex, food, hormones, pleasure, competition and fight or flight response. This is the place of human higher emotions. Neocortex is the third part of the brain, providing thought, logic, speech, planning and writing.
What is Limbic Encephalitis?
Limbic encephalitis is an inflammation of the limbic system which can be associated with different causes. Two primary causes of this condition are infections or auto-immune related encephalitis.
Any infection of the brain may cause inflammation of this region of the central nervous system, especially virus infections with herpes simplex virus (HSV). Therefore these patients might be diagnosed as limbic encephalitis or herpes simplex (HSV) encephalitis, since doctors use both of these terms.Autoimmune processes in the organism may also be the reason behind encephalitis of the limbic area of the brain. Symptoms are usually very similar to cases of infectious limbic encephalitis and patients experience seizures, confusion and loss of memory. However, the difference is lack of viral agents provoking this problem. Human body may crate antibodies to its own limbic system, provoking limbic encephalitis even if there is no viral infection. This autoimmune limbic encephalitis may be either paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (PLE) or non-paraneoplastic (NPLE).
Potassium channel complex antibody associated encephalitis is yet another, probably under-diagnosed type of autoimmune encephalitis. The most likely reason is unawareness of this disease and similarities with infectious form of this disease.Available Treatment Options
Proper diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis of the limbic brain is extremely important, for this condition may be properly treated with immunosuppressive medications (steroid drugs).
As far as the other type of the limbic encephalitis goes, patients are treated according to their symptoms. Acyclovir is found to be good for treatment of limbic encephalitis related to infection of the brain with herpes simplex virus. The success of the treatment is limited for most other viral infections of this part of the brain. Patients with severe problems may need some supportive treatment, especially mechanical ventilation. Corticosteroids are proven useful to decrease the swelling of the brain and its inflammation, while some patients may also need sedative drugs.