Some children develop sudden onset jerking movements of the arms and legs (tics) and severe behavioral changes, such as obsessive-compulsive and oppositional behaviors, emotional instability, cognitive disturbances and hyperactivity, following infections, such as “strep throat” with group-A
beta-hemolytic streptococcus, etc. This condition is known as Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). Not much is known about the exact cause of this disease, though people suspect inflammatory involvement of the brain, particularly basal ganglia (central part of the brain involved in movement and behavior). Therefore, we used positron emission tomography (with a special probe [11C]-PK11195, which can detect brain inflammation) to evaluate brain inflammatory changes in 17 PANDAS children (mean age: 11.4 years; 13 males). We found inflammatory changes in basal ganglia in these children. We also found that inflammatory changes were higher in older
children and decreased with time, particularly after anti-inflammatory treatment such as intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg).