Developing Advanced Neuroimaging for Clinical Evaluation of Autoimmune Encephalitis (DANCE-AE)

  • End date
    Feb 28, 2026
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    King's College London
Updated on 11 July 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Autoimmune encephalitis is brain inflammation caused by the immune system mistakenly reacting against proteins in the brain. The commonest form is called NMDAR-antibody encephalitis (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibody encephalitis), a rare condition which mainly affects children and young people and causes difficulties in memory, thinking and mental health which can have significant long-term impacts on education, employment and quality of life.

In this project we will use advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure changes in the structure, function and chemistry of the brains of children and young people who are in early recovery from NMDAR-antibody encephalitis and other forms of immune-mediated encephalitis. We will investigate if MRI measurements in patients differ from those in healthy people, and if they can help predict patient outcome one year later, assessed by tests of memory, thinking, mental health and functioning in daily life.


This study aims to develop non-invasive, in vivo measures of neurobiological dysfunction derived from the overarching hypothesis that dysfunction of inhibitory interneurons alters the cerebral concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate (Glu) and underlies T2 changes and deficient connectivity in functional networks in early recovery from NMDAR-antibody encephalitis. Our ambition is to identify the best potential prognostic biomarkers from these neurometabolite measurements and structural and functional MRI.

Our primary objective is to test the following specific hypotheses in children and young people with NMDAR-antibody encephalitis:

  • Hypothesis 1: GABA is decreased, and Glu increased, on MR spectroscopy of the medial temporal lobe and medial prefrontal cortex in NMDAR-antibody encephalitis.
  • Hypothesis 2: Local GABA and Glu are correlated with (i) resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) based functional connectivity and (ii) parameter map-based microstructural changes. Specifically, we hypothesise that (i) GABA is positively correlated and Glu inversely correlated with functional connectivity, assessed by whole-brain mapping of the default mode network and seed-based analysis of hippocampal-frontal connectivity; and (ii) Glu is positively correlated and GABA inversely correlated with median T2 values within the hippocampus.
  • Hypothesis 3: Local neurometabolites, network measures and microstructural changes predict cognitive, psychiatric and functional outcome at one year. Specifically, we hypothesise that medial temporal Glu, GABA and hippocampal T2 predict memory performance, and prefrontal Glu and GABA predict attention, executive function and fluid intelligence.

Condition Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis, Autoimmune Encephalitis
Treatment Not applicable - non-interventional study
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05280600
SponsorKing's College London
Last Modified on11 July 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

NMDAR-antibody encephalitis group
Age 8-24 years at study enrollment
Disease onset in the last 12 months before study enrollment
Meets consensus diagnostic criteria (Graus et al., 2016) for either probable anti-NMDAR encephalitis OR definite anti-NMDAR encephalitis
Antibody-negative autoimmune encephalitis group
Age 8-24 years at study enrollment
Disease onset in the last 12 months before study enrollment
Meets consensus diagnostic criteria (Graus et al., 2016) for either autoantibody-negative but probable autoimmune encephalitis OR definite autoimmune limbic encephalitis
Healthy control group
Age 8-24 years at study enrollment

Exclusion Criteria

All participants
Any clear contra-indication for an MRI scan. In particular this would be due to the presence of any implanted devices or metal from previous surgery or accident
Healthy control group
A known neurological or neurodevelopmental disorder
NMDAR-antibody encephalitis and antibody-negative autoimmune encephalitis
Alternative more likely cause of neurological symptoms than autoimmune encephalitis, i.e. reasonable exclusion of other diagnoses as per consensus criteria (Graus et al., 2016)
Severe movement disorder/uncontrolled epilepsy/dysautonomia
Previous infective encephalitis with major destructive brain lesions
Clear my responses

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.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


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

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note