Inflammatory and Infectious Diseases of the Nervous System

  • End date
    Nov 29, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Updated on 7 October 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


  • Inflammation is how the body reacts to infection or injury. Infections or inflammation in the brain and nerves can be serious. There aren t always good tests to detect this. Researchers want to learn more about how diseases affect the brain and nerves to develop better tests and treatments.
  • To learn more about how inflammation and infections hurt the brain and nervous system.
  • People at least 2 years old with a diagnosis or suspected diagnosis of nervous system infection or inflammation.
  • For some participants, a clinician outside of NIH will collect blood, tissue, and other samples. These will be sent to NIH and analyzed.
  • Other participants will have several visits to NIH. Children may not have all these tests.
  • Participants will have:
  • Medical history.
  • Physical and neurological exam.
  • Blood and urine samples collected.
  • Saliva collected. They will chew on a piece of sterile cotton for one minute.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The scanner is a metal cylinder in a strong magnetic field. Participants will lie on a table that slides in and out of the cylinder. Participants will get a contrast agent through an intravenous (IV) catheter during the MRI. A needle will be used to guide a thin plastic tube (catheter) into an arm vein.
  • Lumbar puncture. Skin will be numbed and a needle will be inserted into the space between the bones in the back. Fluid will be removed.
  • Some participants may have optional study procedures. These may include eye tests, memory and thinking testing, tests with electrodes on the head, or skin biopsy.



The objective of this study is to examine the natural course of infectious and inflammatory diseases of the nervous system, to identify causative or associated pathogens when unknown, and generally to better understand the underlying immunological, genetic and pathophysiologic mechanisms that cause and contribute to these diseases and their ultimate neurological outcomes.

Study Population:

The study population will be patients at least 2 years old with known or suspected infection or inflammation of the nervous system and family members. Participants will be recruited through referrals to the NIH.


This is a longitudinal case series with standardized research data collection at predefined time points. Participants will have scheduled visits at the NIH either as an outpatient or an inpatient. The core research evaluations include: a comprehensive history and neurological examination; blood collection; neuroimaging; and lumbar puncture. Follow up visits will be individualized based on clinical needs and results of research evaluations. For some participants, no additional NIH visits will be necessary.

Additionally, we will also enroll participants with known or suspected infections or inflammation of the nervous system from whom only biological samples collected by outside clinicians will be processed and retained for research analyses. In cases were samples remain from those collected for clinical reasons and the samples are deidentified, the samples may be obtained with a waiver of informed consent.

Outcome Measures:

The study outcomes will primarily be the characterizations of varied inflammatory and infectious nervous system diseases. These characterizations will include: the clinical phenotype and biomarkers.

Condition Brain Disease
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02435810
SponsorNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Last Modified on7 October 2022


How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

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Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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