Study – Anti–SARS-CoV-2 and Autoantibody Profiles in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of 3 Teenaged Patients With COVID-19 and Subacute Neuropsychiatric Symptoms


Findings  In this case series of 3 pediatric patients with subacute neuropsychiatric impairment, 2 had intrathecal anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibodies as well as intrathecal antineural antibodies. Anti–transcription factor 4 (TCF4) autoantibodies in one patient who responded to immunotherapy were validated.

Meaning  A subset of pediatric patients with COVID-19 and subacute neuropsychiatric symptoms have intrathecal antineural autoantibodies, suggesting central nervous system autoimmunity in pediatric patients with COVID-19 and recent neuropsychiatric symptoms.Abstract

Importance  Neuropsychiatric manifestations of COVID-19 have been reported in the pediatric population.

Objective  To determine whether anti–SARS-CoV-2 and autoreactive antibodies are present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of pediatric patients with COVID-19 and subacute neuropsychiatric dysfunction.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This case series includes 3 patients with recent SARS-CoV-2 infection as confirmed by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction or IgG serology with recent exposure history who were hospitalized at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital and for whom a neurology consultation was requested over a 5-month period in 2020. During this period, 18 total children were hospitalized and tested positive for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction or rapid antigen test.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Detection and characterization of CSF anti–SARS-CoV-2 IgG and antineural antibodies.

Results  Of 3 included teenaged patients, 2 patients had intrathecal anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. CSF IgG from these 2 patients also indicated antineural autoantibodies on anatomic immunostaining. Autoantibodies targeting transcription factor 4 (TCF4) in 1 patient who appeared to have a robust response to immunotherapy were also validated.

Conclusions and Relevance  Pediatric patients with COVID-19 and prominent subacute neuropsychiatric symptoms, ranging from severe anxiety to delusional psychosis, may have anti–SARS-CoV-2 and antineural antibodies in their CSF and may respond to immunotherapy.