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  • Neuromyotonia and limbic encephalitis sera target mature Shaker-type K+ channels: subunit specificity correlates with clinical manifestations.

    24 October 2018

    Autoantibodies to Shaker-type (Kv1) K+ channels are now known to be associated with three syndromes. Peripheral nerve hyperexcitability is the chief manifestation of acquired neuromyotonia; the combination of neuromyotonia with autonomic and CNS involvement is called Morvan's syndrome (MoS); and CNS manifestations without peripheral involvement is called limbic encephalitis (LE). To determine the cellular basis of these clinical manifestations, we immunostained mouse neural tissues with sera from patients with neuromyotonia (n = 10), MoS (n = 2) or LE (n = 5), comparing with specific antibodies to relevant K+ channel subunits. Fourteen of 17 patients' sera were positive for Kv1.1, Kv1.2 or Kv1.6 antibodies by immunoprecipitation of 125I-alpha-dendrotoxin-labelled rabbit brain K+ channels. Most sera (11 out of 17) labelled juxtaparanodes of peripheral myelinated axons, co-localizing with Kv1.1 and Kv1.2. In the CNS, all sera tested (n = 12) co-localized with one or more areas of high Kv1.1, Kv1.2 or Kv1.6 channel expression: 10 out of 12 sera co-localized with Kv1.1 and Kv1.2 at spinal cord juxtaparanodes or cerebellar layers, while 3 out of 12 sera co-localized additionally (n = 2) or exclusively (n = 1) with Kv1.6 subunits in Purkinje cells, motor and hippocampal neurons. However, only sera from LE patients labelled the hippocampal areas that are enriched in excitatory, Kv1.1-positive axon terminals. All sera (17 out of 17) labelled one or more of these Kv1 subunits when expressed at the cell membrane of transfected HeLa cells, but not when they were retained in the endoplasmic reticulum. Again, LE sera labelled Kv1.1 subunits more prominently than did MoS or neuromyotonia sera, suggesting an association between higher Kv1.1 specificity and limbic manifestations. In contrast, neuromyotonia sera bound more strongly to Kv1.2 subunits than to Kv1.1 or Kv1.6. These studies support the hypothesis that antibodies to mature surface membrane-expressed Shaker-type K+ channels cause acquired neuromyotonia, MoS and LE, and suggest that future assays based on immunofluorescence of cells expressing individual Kv1 subunits will prove more sensitive than the immunoprecipitation assay. Although more than one type of antibody is often detectable in individual sera, higher affinity for certain subunits or subunit combinations may determine the range of clinical manifestations.

  • New autoantibody mediated disorders of the central nervous system.

    24 October 2018

    PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recently, central nervous system disorders have been shown to be associated with autoantibodies. This review summarizes the recent findings and assesses the evidence that these conditions are caused by the antibodies, using the criteria established for peripheral nervous system autoimmune diseases. RECENT FINDINGS: Over the last few years, antibodies to voltage-gated calcium and potassium channels, and to glutamate receptors, have been detected in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with ataxia, limbic encephalitis and certain forms of epilepsy. Some of these patients respond to immunotherapies, suggesting that the antibodies are pathogenic, but there are few demonstrations using the passive transfer approach that antibodies present in the serum can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and affect central nervous system function. Some patients have antibodies to intracellular proteins such as glutamic acid decarboxylase or specific ribonuclear proteins. The pathogenicity of these antibodies must be in some doubt, although intravenous immunoglobulin therapy has been shown to be beneficial in stiff man syndrome, consistent with an autoimmune aetiology for the disease. In only a few conditions, has IgG derived from patients been shown to produce pathogenic effects in vivo or in vitro. SUMMARY: There is much that needs to be done to define the role of these antibodies and to determine how they affect central nervous system function in vivo. These studies must be carried out so that appropriate treatments can be provided for the growing number of patients with possible antibody-mediated conditions.

  • Faciobrachial dystonic seizures precede Lgi1 antibody limbic encephalitis.

    24 October 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To describe a distinctive seizure semiology that closely associates with voltage-gated potassium channel (VGKC)-complex/Lgi1 antibodies and commonly precedes the onset of limbic encephalitis (LE). METHODS: Twenty-nine patients were identified by the authors (n = 15) or referring clinicians (n = 14). The temporal progression of clinical features and serum sodium, brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography/single photon emission computed tomography, and VGKC-complex antibodies was studied. RESULTS: Videos and still images showed a distinctive adult-onset, frequent, brief dystonic seizure semiology that predominantly affected the arm and ipsilateral face. We have termed these faciobrachial dystonic seizures (FBDS). All patients tested during their illness had antibodies to VGKC complexes; the specific antigenic target was Lgi1 in 89%. Whereas 3 patients never developed LE, 20 of the remaining 26 (77%) experienced FBDS prior to the development of the amnesia and confusion that characterize LE. During the prodrome of FBDS alone, patients had normal sodium and brain MRIs, but electroencephalography demonstrated ictal epileptiform activity in 7 patients (24%). Following development of LE, the patients often developed other seizure semiologies, including typical mesial temporal lobe seizures. At this stage, investigations commonly showed hyponatremia and MRI hippocampal high T2 signal; functional brain imaging showed evidence of basal ganglia involvement in 5/8. Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were generally ineffective and in 41% were associated with cutaneous reactions that were often severe. By contrast, immunotherapies produced a clear, and often dramatic, reduction in FBDS frequency. INTERPRETATION: Recognition of FBDS should prompt testing for VGKC-complex/Lgi1 antibodies. AEDs often produce adverse effects; treatment with immunotherapies may prevent the development of LE with its potential for cerebral atrophy and cognitive impairment.

  • Antibodies to neuronal targets in neurological and psychiatric diseases.

    24 October 2018

    The role of antibodies to specific neuronal and muscle ion channels in the etiology of neuromuscular transmission disorders is now well accepted. In addition, maternal antibodies can cross the placenta and cause neonatal disease or even alter the development of the infant, raising the possibility that some neurodevelopmental conditions could be caused by maternal antibodies. Voltage-gated ion channels are expressed in the brain as well as at the neuromuscular junction, and in recent years it has become clear that antibodies to some central nervous system (CNS) channels can be associated with CNS disease. This review highlights features of these conditions, preliminary investigations into neurodevelopmental disorders, and areas for further study.

  • The action of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome immunoglobulin G on cloned human voltage-gated calcium channels.

    24 October 2018

    In the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), immunoglobulin G (IgG) autoantibodies to presynaptic voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) at the neuromuscular junction lead to a reduction in nerve-evoked release of neurotransmitter and muscle weakness. We have examined the action of LEMS IgGs on cloned human VGCCs stably expressed in transfected human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cell lines: 10-13 (alpha(1A-2), alpha(2b)delta, beta(4a)) and C2D7 (alpha(1B-1), alpha(2b)delta, beta(1b)). All LEMS IgGs studied showed surface binding to [(125)I]-omega-CTx-MVIIC-labeled VGCCs in the alpha(1A) cell line and two of six IgGs showed surface binding to [(125)I]-omega-CTx-GVIA-labeled VGCCs in the alpha(1B) cell line. We next studied the effect of LEMS IgGs (2 mg/ml) on whole-cell calcium currents in the alpha(1A) and alpha(1B) cell lines. Overnight treatment of alpha(1A) (10-13) cells with LEMS IgGs led to a significant reduction in peak current density without alteration of the current-voltage relationship or the voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation. In contrast, LEMS IgGs did not reduce peak current density in the alpha(1B) cell line. Overall these data demonstrate the specificity of LEMS IgGs for the alpha(1A) cell line and suggest that LEMS IgGs bind to and downregulate VGCCs in this cell line. Although several LEMS IgGs can be shown to bind to the alpha(1B) (C2D7) cell line, no functional effects were seen on this channel.

  • Contactin-associated protein-2 antibodies in non-paraneoplastic cerebellar ataxia.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: Relatively few studies have searched for potentially pathogenic antibodies in non-paraneoplastic patients with cerebellar ataxia. METHODS AND RESULTS: We first screened sera from 52 idiopathic ataxia patients for binding of serum IgG antibodies to cerebellar neurons. One strong-binding serum was selected for immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, which resulted in the identification of contactin-associated protein 2 (CASPR2) as a major antigen. CASPR2 antibodies were then found by a cell-based assay in 9/88 (10%) ataxia patients, compared to 3/144 (2%) multiple sclerosis or dementia controls (p=0.011). CASPR2 is strongly expressed in the cerebellum, only partly in association with voltage-gated potassium channels. CONCLUSIONS: Prospective studies are now needed to see whether identification of CASPR2 antibodies has relevance for the diagnosis and treatment of idiopathic cerebellar ataxia.

  • VGKC antibodies in pediatric encephalitis presenting with status epilepticus.

    24 October 2018

    BACKGROUND: Voltage-gated potassium channel antibodies (VGKC Ab) are associated with limbic encephalitis and neuromyotonia in adults. There have been no systematic investigations in children to date. METHODS: We looked for antibodies that are associated with CNS syndromes in adults including antibodies to VGKCs, NMDARs, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and glycine receptor (GlyR) in the stored acute serum from 10 children with unexplained encephalitis presenting with encephalopathy and status epilepticus. We also looked for antibodies to leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 (Lgi1) and contactin-associated protein-like 2 (Caspr2), which are now known to be tightly complexed with VGKCs in vivo. Sixty-nine pediatric controls were used for comparison. RESULTS: An elevated VGKC Ab (>100 pM) was detected in 4/10 patients with encephalitis compared to only 1/69 controls (p < 0.001). The outcome in the 4 VGKC Ab-positive patients with encephalitis was variable including good recovery (n = 1), cognitive impairment (n = 3), temporal lobe epilepsy (n = 2), and mesial temporal sclerosis (n = 1). No other antibodies were detected, including those to Lgi1 and Caspr2. CONCLUSION: Encephalitis associated with VGKC Ab occurs in children and presents with status epilepticus and focal epilepsy. These antibodies are not directed against Lgi1 or Caspr2.