Novel neuronal surface autoantibodies in plasma of patients with depression and anxiety

Shenghua Zong*, Carolin Correia-Hoffmann, Marina Mane-Damas, Nils Kappelmann, Peter C. Molenaar, Gerard van Grootheest, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Rob P. W. Rouhl, Mario Losen, Pilar Martinez-Martinez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Neuronal surface autoantibodies (NSAbs) against various antigens cause autoimmune encephalitis. Some of these antigens are also involved in the pathology of depression and anxiety. To study whether NSAbs are more common in plasma of individuals with depression and anxiety than in controls, and to investigate if NSAbs correlate with disease status, plasma samples of 819 individuals with a current diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety, 920 in remission and 492 individuals without these disorders were included in this study. Samples were tested by a combination of immunohistochemistry (IHC), staining on live rat hippocampus neurons and cell-based assay (CBA). By IHC, 50 (2.2%) samples showed immunoreactivity to rat brain tissue, with no significant differences between the aforementioned groups (22/819 vs 18/920 vs 11/492, P > 0.99). In addition, eight IHC positive samples were positive for NSAbs on live neurons (7/819 vs 0/920 vs 1/492, P = 0.006). The IHC-staining patterns of these eight samples were atypical for autoimmune encephalitis and accordingly, they tested negative for known NSAbs by CBA. No obvious difference in the clinical characteristics between individuals with or without NSAbs was observed. In conclusion, novel NSAbs were rare but predominately found in patients with current anxiety or depression indicating they might affect mental health in a small group of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number404
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020




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