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  • Sequential fluctuating paraneoplastic ocular flutter-opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome in small-cell lung cancer.

    24 October 2018

    Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration may occur in association with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), but to our knowledge, the co-occurrence of paraneoplastic opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome and LEMS has not been previously reported. A 67-year-old woman presented with a complex partial seizure and evolving ocular flutter, opsoclonus, myoclonus and 'cerebellar' signs, all of which improved spontaneously within 6 weeks. Approximately 8 weeks after symptom onset, the patient became encephalopathic, she had a further complex partial seizure, and she became areflexic with potentiation of deep tendon reflexes. Radiological, bronchoscopic and histological investigations revealed small-cell lung cancer, and neurophysiological investigations confirmed a diagnosis of LEMS. High-titre anti-P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium-channel antibodies were identified in the serum, which increased as the signs of opsoclonus and myoclonus resolved. The encephalopathy and clinical features of LEMS responded dramatically to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Spontaneous improvement of paraneoplastic opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome may occur, and this syndrome may occur in association with LEMS. Antivoltage-gated calcium-channel antibodies are not implicated in the pathogenesis of paraneoplastic opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome.

  • A prospective study of the presentation and management of dancing eye syndrome/opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome in the United Kingdom.

    24 October 2018

    The incidence, mode of presentation and management of Dancing Eye Syndrome/Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome (DES/OMS) was prospectively evaluated in 20 United Kingdom (UK) paediatric neurology centres by questionnaire over a 24-month period between 2003 and 2005. Nineteen children were notified, giving an incidence of 0.18 cases per million total population per year. Mean age at presentation was 18 months (range 3-42 months). Fifteen families consented to participate in the study. Atypical features were present in 6/15 cases including very delayed presentation of opsoclonus, dysphagia, and rapid spontaneous improvement without treatment. Only 4/15 cases were associated with neuroblastoma (NB) but current practice in excluding this is diverse and a standardised approach is suggested.

  • Autoantibodies in neuromuscular autoimmune disorders.

    24 October 2018

    Partly because they are vital but vulnerable, neuromuscular receptors/ion channels are frequently the focus of attack in autoimmune diseases. With such well defined targets and patient subgroups, and with such clear antibody-mediated pathogeneses, these diseases offer excellent scope for highly specific diagnostic tests, which already help to point patients towards optimal treatments. This review focuses on the autoantibodies and their detection, and briefly considers prospects for novel therapeutic approaches. These disorders have also proved fertile ground for detailed studies on pathogenic mechanisms. Moreover, it is hoped that the distinct patient subgroups and the characteristic tumor associations therein will hold valuable clues to pathways of autoimmunization.

  • Potassium channel antibody-associated encephalopathy: A potentially immunotherapy-responsive form of limbic encephalitis

    24 October 2018

    Patients presenting with subacute amnesia are frequently seen in acute neurological practice. Amongst the differential diagnoses, herpes simplex encephalitis, Korsakoff's syndrome and limbic encephalitis should be considered. Limbic encephalitis is typically a paraneoplastic syndrome with a poor prognosis; thus, identifying those patients with potentially reversible symptoms is important. Voltage-gated potassium channel antibodies (VGKC-Ab) have recently been reported in three cases of reversible limbic encephalitis. Here we review the clinical, immunological and neuropsychological features of 10 patients (nine male, one female; age range 44-79 years), eight of whom were identified in two centres over a period of 15 months. The patients presented with 1-52 week histories of memory loss, confusion and seizures. Low plasma sodium concentrations, initially resistant to treatment, were present in eight out of 10. Brain MRI at onset showed signal change in the medial temporal lobes in eight out of 10 cases. Paraneoplastic antibodies were negative, but VGKC-Ab ranged from 450 to 5128 pM (neurological and healthy controls <100 pNI). CSF oligoclonal bands were found in only one, but bands matched with those in the serum were found in six other patients. VGKC-Abs in the CSF, tested in five individuals, varied between <1 and 10% of serum values. Only one patient had neuromyotonia, which was excluded by electromyography in seven of the others. Formal neuropsychology testing showed severe and global impairment of memory, with sparing of general intellect in all but two patients, and of nominal functions in all but one. Variable regimes of steroids, plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin were associated with variable falls in serum VGKC-Abs, to values between 2 and 88% of the initial values, together with marked improvement of neuropsychological functioning in six patients, slight improvement in three and none in one. The improvement in neuropsychological functioning in seven patients correlated broadly with the fall in antibodies. However, varying degrees of cerebral atrophy and residual cognitive impairment were common. Over the same period, only one paraneoplastic case of limbic encephalitis was identified between the two main centres. Thus, VGKC-Ab-associated encephalopathy is a relatively common form of autoimmune, non-paraneoplastic, potentially treatable encephalitis that can be diagnosed by a serological test. Establishing the frequency of this new syndrome, the full range of clinical presentations and means of early recognition, and optimal immunotherapy, should now be the aim.

  • Potassium channel antibody-associated encephalopathy: a potentially immunotherapy-responsive form of limbic encephalitis.

    24 October 2018

    Patients presenting with subacute amnesia are frequently seen in acute neurological practice. Amongst the differential diagnoses, herpes simplex encephalitis, Korsakoff's syndrome and limbic encephalitis should be considered. Limbic encephalitis is typically a paraneoplastic syndrome with a poor prognosis; thus, identifying those patients with potentially reversible symptoms is important. Voltage-gated potassium channel antibodies (VGKC-Ab) have recently been reported in three cases of reversible limbic encephalitis. Here we review the clinical, immunological and neuropsychological features of 10 patients (nine male, one female; age range 44-79 years), eight of whom were identified in two centres over a period of 15 months. The patients presented with 1-52 week histories of memory loss, confusion and seizures. Low plasma sodium concentrations, initially resistant to treatment, were present in eight out of 10. Brain MRI at onset showed signal change in the medial temporal lobes in eight out of 10 cases. Paraneoplastic antibodies were negative, but VGKC-Ab ranged from 450 to 5128 pM (neurological and healthy controls <100 pM). CSF oligoclonal bands were found in only one, but bands matched with those in the serum were found in six other patients. VGKC-Abs in the CSF, tested in five individuals, varied between <1 and 10% of serum values. Only one patient had neuromyotonia, which was excluded by electromyography in seven of the others. Formal neuropsychology testing showed severe and global impairment of memory, with sparing of general intellect in all but two patients, and of nominal functions in all but one. Variable regimes of steroids, plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin were associated with variable falls in serum VGKC-Abs, to values between 2 and 88% of the initial values, together with marked improvement of neuropsychological functioning in six patients, slight improvement in three and none in one. The improvement in neuropsychological functioning in seven patients correlated broadly with the fall in antibodies. However, varying degrees of cerebral atrophy and residual cognitive impairment were common. Over the same period, only one paraneoplastic case of limbic encephalitis was identified between the two main centres. Thus, VGKC-Ab-associated encephalopathy is a relatively common form of autoimmune, non-paraneoplastic, potentially treatable encephalitis that can be diagnosed by a serological test. Establishing the frequency of this new syndrome, the full range of clinical presentations and means of early recognition, and optimal immunotherapy, should now be the aim.

  • Autoantibodies to ion channels at the neuromuscular junction.

    24 October 2018

    Autoantibodies directed against voltage- or ligand-gated ion channels and their associated proteins at the neuromuscular junction give rise to a family of neurological autoimmune diseases. Antibodies to acetylcholine receptors or muscle-specific kinase present on the postsynaptic muscle membrane are associated with different forms of myasthenia gravis (MG). Antibodies to the presynaptic voltage-gated potassium and calcium channels are responsible for acquired neuromyotonia and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), respectively. The patients respond to immunotherapies and their plasma can transfer defects in neuromuscular transmission to mice, indicating that these are antibody-mediated conditions. In a small proportion of cases, ion channel antibodies have also been implicated in neurological dysfunction in the central nervous system. In these conditions, a proportion of the patients have an underlying tumour, thymoma in both MG and neuromyotonia and small cell lung carcinoma in LEMS, emphasising the putative role of autoimmunity to tumour antigens as a cause of neurological disease.

  • Autoantibody-mediated disorders of the central nervous system.

    24 October 2018

    Autoimmunity has been demonstrated in a diverse range of peripheral neurological disorders, such as myasthenia gravis and acquired neuromyotonia. Serum antibodies found in these conditions are directed against ion channels and receptors situated on the cell surface and have been shown to produce pathogenic effects. The symptoms of these peripheral disorders have been transferred to animals by passive or active immunisation and, in humans, treated successfully with immunomodulatory therapy. Recently, a number of central nervous system disorders (CNS), such as limbic encephalitis, certain forms of epilepsy, neuromyelitis optica and cerebellar ataxia, have been hypothesised to associate with specific serum autoantibodies. In this article we consider this rapidly expanding field of CNS disorders, discuss evidence for their proposed autoimmune aetiology and review whether the antibodies detected have been shown to be pathogenic or if they are secondary to preceding neuronal damage.

  • HLA and smoking in prediction and prognosis of small cell lung cancer in autoimmune Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

    24 October 2018

    Patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) survive longer if they have the antibody-mediated Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), making this autoimmune disorder a prototype disease for studying cancer immunosurveillance. Patients with nontumor LEMS (NT-LEMS) never develop SCLC but are otherwise indistinguishable clinically. Therefore, we have compared immunogenetic factors in SCLC-LEMS and NT-LEMS and studied their role in the pathogenesis of LEMS and survival from SCLC. In 48 British and 29 Dutch Caucasian LEMS patients, we studied clinical symptoms, antibody titers, HLA types and alleles at six nearby located microsatellite loci. Highly significant associations were found in NT-LEMS, which appeared strongest with HLA-B8, but also involved HLA-DQ2, -DR3 and six flanking microsatellite alleles. SCLC-LEMS patients were not different from controls. Smoking was a strong predictor of SCLC. In contrast, HLA-B8 positivity correlated with a decreased risk of SCLC even among the smokers. Moreover, in SCLC-LEMS patients, HLA-B8 positivity correlated with prolonged survival after LEMS onset. We propose that two distinct immunopathogenetic routes can lead to one clinically and serologically indistinguishable autoimmune myasthenic syndrome. HLA-DR3-B8 is strongly associated with LEMS in nontumor patients only. In other LEMS patients, SCLC apparently provides a powerful autoimmunogenic stimulus that overrides HLA restrictions in breaking tolerance to calcium channels. Moreover, negativity for HLA-B8 combined with smoking behavior points more strongly to an underlying SCLC and predicts a worse prognosis in SCLC-LEMS patients.