Assay identifies biomarker of autoimmune encephalitis subtype

Answers from the Lab

Antibody against the GABA-A receptor is a biomarker of autoimmune encephalopathy that occurs across the lifespan, and disproportionately affects children. In this test-specific episode of the "Answers From the Lab" podcast, Andrew McKeon, M.B., B.Ch., M.D., explains how Mayo Clinic Laboratories' GABA-A receptor antibody assay aids diagnosis of this serious but treatable condition.

"The disease associated with the GABA-A receptor antibody is very immunotherapy-responsive, if treated early," Dr. McKeon says. However, few reliable testing options are available.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories' new cell-based GABA-A receptor antibody  assay doesn't require reflex testing.

"We have a high level of confidence in this testing method," Dr. McKeon says. "It's an opportunity for doctors to be able to diagnose and confirm GABA-A receptor encephalitis, particularly in pediatric patients."

The GABA-A receptor antibody test is recommended — in conjunction with other autoimmune neurology profiles— for specific patients. "The phenotype of note is encephalopathy with seizures," Dr. McKeon says. "Patients also typically have multifocal large cerebral temporal and extra-temporal T2 signal abnormalities without enhancement. If you see patients with that, you should definitely work in GABA-A."

The assay is being launched as a standalone test to accommodate clients' IT systems while enhancing patient care.

Listen to learn more about Mayo Clinic Laboratories' GABA-A receptor antibody assay.

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Barbara J. Toman

Barbara J. Toman is a Senior Communications Specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is also the science writer for Mayo’s Neurosciences Update newsletter, which helps referring physicians to stay informed about Mayo’s treatment and research. Barbara has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2007. She enjoys international travel and cooking.