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Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) are the immune-mediated effects of a remote cancer and are characterised by an autoantibody response against antigens expressed by the tumour. Classically, well-characterised 'onconeuronal' antibodies target intracellular antigens and hence cannot access their antigens across intact cell membranes. The pathogenic mediators are likely to be neuronal-specific T cells. There is a variable response to immunotherapies and the clinical syndrome helps to direct the search for a specific set of tumours. By contrast, many newly emerging autoantibodies with oncological associations target cell surface epitopes and can exert direct pathogenic effects on both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Patients with these cell-surface directed autoantibodies often clearly respond to immunotherapies. Overall, the clinical, serological and oncological features in an individual patient helps determine the clinical relevance of the syndrome and hence guide its management. We summarise current knowledge and a practical approach to the investigation, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of patients with suspected PNS.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/practneurol-2021-003073

Type

Journal article

Journal

Pract Neurol

Publication Date

11/09/2021

Keywords

clinical neurology, immunology, neuroimmunology, paraneoplastic syndrome, tumours