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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hashimoto’s encephalopathy cases: Chinese experience

Yi Tang1, Yi Xing1, Michael T Lin2, Jin Zhang1 and Jianping Jia1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Xuan Wu Hospital, Capital Medical University, 45 Changchun Street, Beijing, 100053, People’s Republic of China

2 Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Weill Medical College of Cornell University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, USA

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:60  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-60

Published: 24 July 2012



Hashimoto’s encephalopathy is a poorly understood syndrome consisting of heterogeneous neurological symptoms and high serum antithyroid antibody titers, typically responding to steroids. More clinical series studies are required to characterize the clinical, laboratory and imaging features, and outcomes, especially in the Chinese population.


We analyzed the clinical, laboratory, and imaging features and outcomes of thirteen consecutive patients with Hashimoto’s encephalopathy diagnosed in Xuan Wu Hospital, Beijing from 2005 to 2010 retrospectively.


Cognitive impairment (84.6%) and psychiatric symptoms (38.5%) were the most frequent symptoms. Seizures (30.8%) and myoclonus (7.7%) were less common than previously described. Three (23.1%) patients showed abnormal signals in hippocampus or temporal lobe, which were believed related to their memory disorders or seizures. MRI changes showed resolution paralleling clinical improvement in one patient. Among eight patients who received steroid therapy, five patients recovered, one patient improved with residual deficits, and two patients relapsed or had no effect. Among five non-steroid treated patients, three patients experienced stable remission with antiepileptic drugs or general neurotrophic therapy, and two patients experienced continuous deterioration.


Most patients with Hashimoto’s encephalopathy showed good response to steroids. Some patients improved without steroid therapy. Considering its reversible course, we recommend that Hashimoto’s encephalopathy should always be in the differential diagnosis while evaluating disorders of the central nervous system.