What is it about?

In general, brain is protected from blood antibodies by blood-brain barriers. We surprisingly found that presence of blood circulating antibodies against NMDAR1, a brain-specific protein essential for cognitive functions, is sufficient to impair cognitive performance in healthy mice.

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Why is it important?

Antibodies last months and years in human blood. ~5-10% of the general human population have some levels of blood antibodies against NMDAR1. Will these antibodies impact human cognitive functions and/or contribute to psychiatric symptoms?


Many environmental and genetic factors have subtle effects on human cognitive functions in healthy people. In contrast, NMDAR1 antibodies have a large effect size on cognition and affect a large portion of the general human population. I hope our finding will stimulate more research of this significant question.

Xianjin Zhou
University of California San Diego

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This page is a summary of: Chronic presence of blood circulating anti-NMDAR1 autoantibodies impairs cognitive function in mice, PLoS ONE, September 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256972.
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