An impairment of eye movements, or nystagmus, is seen in many diseases of the central nervous system, in particular those affecting the brainstem and cerebellum, as well as in those of the vestibular system. The key to diagnosis is a systematic clinical examination of the different types of eye movements, including: eye position, range of eye movements, smooth pursuit, saccades, gaze-holding function and optokinetic nystagmus, as well as testing for the different types of nystagmus (e.g., central fixation nystagmus or peripheral vestibular nystagmus). Depending on the time course of the signs and symptoms, eye movements often indicate a specific underlying cause (e.g., stroke or neurodegenerative or metabolic disorders). A detailed knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of eye movements enables the physician to localize the disturbance to a specific area in the brainstem (midbrain, pons or medulla) or cerebellum (in particular the flocculus). For example, isolated dysfunction of vertical eye movements is due to a midbrain lesion affecting the rostral interstitial nucleus of the medial longitudinal fascicle, with impaired vertical saccades only, the interstitial nucleus of Cajal or the posterior commissure; common causes with an acute onset are an infarction or bleeding in the upper midbrain or in patients with chronic progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Niemann–Pick type C (NP-C). Isolated dysfunction of horizontal saccades is due to a pontine lesion affecting the paramedian pontine reticular formation due, for instance, to brainstem bleeding, glioma or Gaucher disease type 3; an impairment of horizontal and vertical saccades is found in later stages of PSP, NP-C and Gaucher disease type 3. Gaze-evoked nystagmus (GEN) in all directions indicates a cerebellar dysfunction and can have multiple causes such as drugs, in particular antiepileptics, chronic alcohol abuse, neurodegenerative cerebellar disorders or cerebellar ataxias; purely vertical GEN is due to a midbrain lesion, while purely horizontal GEN is due to a pontomedullary lesion. The pathognomonic clinical sign of internuclear ophthalmoplegia is an impaired adduction while testing horizontal saccades on the side of the lesion in the ipsilateral medial longitudinal fascicule. The most common pathological types of central nystagmus are downbeat nystagmus (DBN) and upbeat nystagmus (UBN). DBN is generally due to cerebellar dysfunction affecting the flocculus bilaterally (e.g., due to a neurodegenerative disease). Treatment options exist for a few disorders: miglustat for NP-C and aminopyridines for DBN and UBN. It is therefore particularly important to identify treatable cases with these conditions.
Ocular motor; Examination; Neurodegenerative disorder; Diagnosis; Treatment
Vertigo and dizziness are among the most common complaints with a lifetime
prevalence of about 30%. The various forms of vestibular disorders can be
treated with pharmacological therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapeutic
measures or, rarely, surgery. In this review, the current pharmacological
treatment options for peripheral and central vestibular, cerebellar and ocular
motor disorders will be described. They are as follows for peripheral vestibular
disorders. In vestibular neuritis recovery of the peripheral vestibular function
can be improved by treatment with oral corticosteroids. In
Menière's disease a recent study showed long-term
high-dose treatment with betahistine has a significant effect on the frequency
of the attacks. The use of aminopyridines introduced a new therapeutic principle
in the treatment of downbeat and upbeat nystagmus and episodic ataxia type 2 (EA
2). These potassium channel blockers presumably increase the activity and
excitability of cerebellar Purkinje cells, thereby augmenting the inhibitory
influence of these cells on vestibular and cerebellar nuclei. A few studies
showed that baclofen improves periodic alternating nystagmus, and gabapentin and
memantine, pendular nystagmus. However, many other eye movement disorders such
as ocular flutter opsoclonus, central positioning, or see-saw nystagmus are
still difficult to treat. Although progress has been made in the treatment of
vestibular neuritis, downbeat and upbeat nystagmus, as well as EA 2,
state-of-the-art trials must still be performed on many vestibular and ocular
motor disorders, namely Menière's disease, bilateral
vestibular failure, vestibular paroxysmia, vestibular migraine, and many forms
of central eye movement disorders.
vertigo; dizziness; benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo; vestibular neuritis; Menière's disease; vestibular paroxysmia; vestibular migraine; episodic ataxia type 2; downbeat nystagmus; upbeat nystagmus
Eye movements are clinically normal in most patients with motor neuron disorders until late in the disease course. Rare patients are reported to show slow vertical saccades, impaired smooth pursuit, and gaze-evoked nystagmus. We report clinical and oculomotor findings in three patients with motor neuronopathy and downbeat nystagmus, a classic sign of vestibulocerebellar disease.
All patients had clinical and electrodiagnostic features of anterior horn cell disease. Involvement of finger and wrist extensors predominated, causing finger and wrist drop. Bulbar or respiratory dysfunction did not occur. All three had clinically evident downbeat nystagmus worse on lateral and downgaze, confirmed on eye movement recordings using the magnetic search coil technique in two patients. Additional oculomotor findings included alternating skew deviation and intermittent horizontal saccadic oscillations, in one patient each. One patient had mild cerebellar atrophy, while the other two had no cerebellar or brainstem abnormality on neuroimaging. The disorder is slowly progressive, with survival up to 30 years from the time of onset.
The combination of motor neuronopathy, characterized by early and prominent wrist and finger extensor weakness, and downbeat nystagmus with or without other cerebellar eye movement abnormalities may represent a novel motor neuron syndrome.
Purpose of review
The most relevant advances in immune-mediated movement disorders are described, with emphasis on the clinical–immunological associations, novel antigens, and treatment.
Many movement disorders previously considered idiopathic or degenerative are now recognized as immune-mediated. Some disorders are paraneoplastic, such as anti-CRMP5-associated chorea, anti-Ma2 hypokinesis and rigidity, anti-Yo cerebellar ataxia and tremor, and anti-Hu ataxia and pesudoathetosis. Other disorders such as Sydenham's chorea, or chorea related to systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome occur in association with multiple antibodies, are not paraneoplastic, and are triggered by molecular mimicry or unknown mechanisms. Recent studies have revealed a new category of disorders that can be paraneoplastic or not, and associate with antibodies against cell-surface or synaptic proteins. They include anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (anti-NMDAR) encephalitis, which may cause dyskinesias, chorea, ballismus or dystonia (NMDAR antibodies), the spectrum of Stiff-person syndrome/muscle rigidity (glutamic acid decarboxylase, amphiphysin, GABAA-receptor-associated protein, or glycine receptor antibodies), neuromyotonia (Caspr2 antibodies), and opsoclonus–myoclonus–ataxia (unknown antigens).
Neurologists should be aware that many movement disorders are immune-mediated. Recognition of these disorders is important because it may lead to the diagnosis of an occult cancer, and a substantial number of patients, mainly those with antibodies to cell-surface or synaptic proteins, respond to immunotherapy.
antibodies; ataxia; autoimmune; chorea; dyskinesia; dystonia; encephalitis; immunotherapy; movement disorders; paraneoplastic
Background and Purpose
The mechanism of upbeat nystagmus is unknown and clinicoanatomical correlative studies in series of patients with upbeat nystagmus are limited.
Fifteen patients with upbeat nystagmus received full neuro-ophthalmological evaluation by the senior author. Nystagmus was observed using video Frenzel goggles and recorded with video-oculography. Brain lesions were documented with MRI.
Lesions responsible for nystagmus were found throughout the brainstem, mainly in the paramedian area: in the medulla (n=8), pons (n=3), pons and midbrain with or without cerebellar lesions (n=3), and midbrain and thalamus (n=1). Underlying diseases comprised cerebral infarction (n=10), multiple sclerosis (n=2), cerebral hemorrhage (n=1), Wernicke encephalopathy (n=1), and hydrocephalus (n=1). Upbeat nystagmus was mostly transient and showed occasional evolution during the acute phase. In one patient with a bilateral medial medullary infarction, the upbeat nystagmus changed into a hemiseesaw pattern with near complete resolution of the unilateral lesion. Gaze and positional changes usually affected both the intensity and direction of the nystagmus. A patient with a cervicomedullary lesion showed a reversal of upbeat into downbeat nystagmus by straight-head hanging and leftward head turning while in the supine position. Gaze-evoked nystagmus (n=7), ocular tilt reaction (n=7), and internuclear ophthalmoplegia (n=4) were also commonly associated with upbeat nystagmus.
In view of the responsible lesions and associated neuro-ophthalmological findings, upbeat nystagmus may be ascribed to damage to the pathways mediating the upward vestibulo-ocular reflex or the neural integrators involved in vertical gaze holding.
Upbeat nystagmus; Vestibulo-ocular reflex; Neural integrator
We review current pharmacological treatments for peripheral and central vestibular disorders, and ocular motor disorders that impair vision, especially pathological nystagmus. The prerequisites for successful pharmacotherapy of vertigo, dizziness, and abnormal eye movements are the “4 D’s”: correct diagnosis, correct drug, appropriate dosage, and sufficient duration. There are seven groups of drugs (the “7 A’s”) that can be used: antiemetics; anti-inflammatory, anti-Ménière’s, and anti-migrainous medications; anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, and aminopyridines. A recovery from acute vestibular neuritis can be promoted by treatment with oral corticosteroids. Betahistine may reduce the frequency of attacks of Ménière’s disease. The aminopyridines constitute a novel treatment approach for downbeat and upbeat nystagmus, as well as episodic ataxia type 2 (EA 2); these drugs may restore normal “pacemaker” activity to the Purkinje cells that govern vestibular and cerebellar nuclei. A limited number of trials indicate that baclofen improves periodic alternating nystagmus, and that gabapentin and memantine improve acquired pendular and infantile (congenital) nystagmus. Preliminary reports suggest suppression of square-wave saccadic intrusions by memantine, and ocular flutter by beta-blockers. Thus, although progress has been made in the treatment of vestibular neuritis, some forms of pathological nystagmus, and EA 2, controlled, masked trials are still needed to evaluate treatments for many vestibular and ocular motor disorders, including betahistine for Ménière’s disease, oxcarbazepine for vestibular paroxysmia, or metoprolol for vestibular migraine.
Vertigo; Dizziness; Vestibular neuritis; Ménière’s disease; Vestibular paroxysmia; Vestibular migraine; Episodic ataxia type 2; Downbeat nystagmus; Upbeat nystagmus; Pendular nystagmus; Periodic alternating nystagmus; Infantile nystagmus; Square-wave saccadic intrusion; Ocular flutter; Opsoclonus
Purpose of review
This review describes relevant advances in paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) with emphasis on particular syndromes and the impact of antibodies against surface antigens in their management.
PNS may present with symptoms that do not raise the suspicion of a paraneoplastic origin. The best example is anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis that in adult women frequently associates with ovarian teratoma. An electroencephalogram pattern described as ‘extreme delta brush’ was recently identified in 30% of patients with this disorder. Isolated myelopathy may have a paraneoplastic origin associated with amphiphysin or CV2 (CRMP5) antibodies. Jaw dystonia and laryngospasm can be the predominant symptom of the brainstem encephalitis associated with Ri antibodies. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)B receptor antibodies are the most common antibodies found in patients with limbic encephalitis and small cell lung cancer, and contactin-associated protein 2 antibodies in patients with Morvan’s syndrome and thymoma. Lastly, a recent study identified delta/notch-like epidermal growth factor-related receptor (DNER) as the target antigen of Tr antibodies, a marker of cerebellar ataxia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The number of antibodies relevant to PNS is now expanded to those against surface antigens. These antibodies do not confirm the paraneoplastic origin of the syndrome but predict a better response to immunotherapy.
antibodies; cancer; cerebellar degeneration; Lambert–Eaton myasthenic syndrome; limbic encephalitis; paraneoplastic
Among paraneoplastic neurologic disorders (PND), opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, so-called “dancing eye syndrome,” is a rare disorder combining multivectorial eye movements, involuntary multifocal myoclonus, and cerebellar ataxia. Although several paraneoplastic antibodies against postsynaptic or cell-surface antigens have been reported, usually most patients are serum antibody negative. We report a 65-year-old patient with opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome revealing a small-cell lung carcinoma. If serologic antineuronal anti-body screening was negative, autoantibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase (anti-GAD) were positive. Despite the specific anticancer treatment and high dose corticosteroids, the patient developed a severe and progressive encephalopathy and died 10 days later.
Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNSs) cover a wide range of diseases and
involve both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system.
Paraneoplastic encephalitis comprises several diseases such as paraneoplastic
cerebellar degeneration (PCD), limbic encephalitis (LE), paraneoplastic
encephalomyelitis (PEM), brainstem encephalitis, opsomyoclonus syndrome, in
addition to other even less frequently occurring entities. LE was the first
historically identified CNS PNS, and similarities between other temporal lobe
diseases such as herpes encephalitis have been elucidated. In the past few
decades several autoantibodies have been described in association with LE. These
encompass the classical ‘onconeuronal’ antibodies (abs) such as Hu, Yo, Ri and
others, and now additionally abs towards either ion channels or surface
antigens. The clinical core findings in LE are various mental changes such as
amnesia or confusion, often associated with seizures. Careful characterization
of psychiatric manifestations and/or associated neurological signs can help to
characterize the syndrome and type of ab. The treatment options in LE depend on
the aetiology. In LE caused by onconeuronal abs, the treatment options are poor.
In two types of abs associated with LE, abs against ion channels and surface
antigens (e.g. NMDA), immunomodulatory treatments seem effective, making these
types of LE treatable conditions. However, LE can also occur without being
associated with cancer, in which case only immunomodulation is required. Despite
effective treatments, some patients’ residual deficits remain, and recurrences
have also been described.
cancer; ion channel antibodies; limbic encephalitis; NMDA; onconeuronal antibodies; paraneoplastic disease; paraneoplastic encephalitis; surface antibodies
Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration is a rare non-metastatic manifestation of malignancy. In this report, to the best of our knowledge we describe for the first time a diagnosis of paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration several months prior to the diagnosis of clear carcinoma of the uterus.
A 75-year-old Caucasian woman manifested a rapidly progressive cerebellar syndrome with nystagmus, past-pointing, dysdiadochokinesis, dysarthria, truncal ataxia and titubation. The paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration was associated with anti-Yo and anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies. 14-3-3 protein was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid. She was treated with intravenous immunoglobulin prior to laparotomy, hysterectomy and bilateral salpingoophorectomy. Our patient has survived for three years following diagnosis and treatment.
To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of an association of clear cell carcinoma of the uterus and paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration with both anti-Yo and anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies. The findings imply that both antibodies contributed to the fulminating paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration observed in our patient, and this was of such severity it resulted in the release of 14-3-3 protein in the cerebrospinal fluid, a marker of neuronal death.
14-3-3 proteins; anti-Yo/anti-GAD antibodies; clear cell carcinoma of uterus; paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration
We report seven patients, six from a single institution, who developed subacute limbic encephalitis initially considered of uncertain aetiology. Four patients presented with symptoms of hippocampal dysfunction (i.e. severe short-term memory loss) and three with extensive limbic dysfunction (i.e. confusion, seizures and suspected psychosis). Brain MRI and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET complemented each other but did not overlap in 50% of the patients. Combining both tests, all patients had temporal lobe abnormalities, five with additional areas involved. In one patient, FDG hyperactivity in the brainstem that was normal on MRI correlated with central hypoventilation; in another case, hyperactivity in the cerebellum anticipated ataxia. All patients had abnormal CSF: six pleocytosis, six had increased protein concentration, and three of five examined had oligoclonal bands. A tumour was identified and removed in four patients (mediastinal teratoma, thymoma, thymic carcinoma and thyroid cancer) and not treated in one (ovarian teratoma). An immunohistochemical technique that facilitates the detection of antibodies to cell surface or synaptic proteins demonstrated that six patients had antibodies to the neuropil of hippocampus or cerebellum, and one to intraneuronal antigens. Only one of the neuropil antibodies corresponded to voltage-gated potassium channel (VGKC) antibodies; the other five (two with identical specificity) reacted with antigens concentrated in areas of high dendritic density or synaptic-enriched regions of the hippocampus or cerebellum. Preliminary characterization of these antigens indicates that they are diverse and expressed on the neuronal cell membrane and dendrites; they do not co-localize with VGKCs, but partially co-localize with spinophilin. A target autoantigen in one of the patients co-localizes with a cell surface protein involved in hippocampal dendritic development. All patients except the one with antibodies to intracellular antigens had dramatic clinical and neuroimaging responses to immunotherapy or tumour resection; two patients had neurological relapse and improved with immunotherapy. Overall, the phenotype associated with the novel neuropil antibodies includes dominant behavioural and psychiatric symptoms and seizures that often interfere with the evaluation of cognition and memory, and brain MRI or FDG-PET abnormalities less frequently restricted to the medial temporal lobes than in patients with classical paraneoplastic or VGKC antibodies. When compared with patients with VGKC antibodies, patients with these novel antibodies are more likely to have CSF inflammatory abnormalities and systemic tumours (teratoma and thymoma), and they do not develop SIADH-like hyponatraemia. Although most autoantigens await characterization, all share intense expression by the neuropil of hippocampus, with patterns of immunolabelling characteristic enough to suggest the diagnosis of these disorders and predict response to treatment.
limbic encephalitis; neuronal autoantibodies; paraneoplastic syndrome; PET; MRI
In recent decades there has been marked progress in the imaging and laboratory evaluation of dizzy patients. However, detailed history taking and comprehensive bedside neurotological evaluation remain crucial for a diagnosis of dizziness. Bedside neurotological evaluation should include examinations for ocular alignment, spontaneous and gaze-evoked nystagmus, the vestibulo-ocular reflex, saccades, smooth pursuit, and balance. In patients with acute spontaneous vertigo, negative head impulse test, direction-changing nystagmus, and skew deviation mostly indicate central vestibular disorders. In contrast, patients with unilateral peripheral deafferentation invariably have a positive head impulse test and mixed horizontal-torsional nystagmus beating away from the lesion side. Since suppression by visual fixation is the rule in peripheral nystagmus and is frequent even in central nystagmus, removal of visual fixation using Frenzel glasses is required for the proper evaluation of central as well as peripheral nystagmus. Head-shaking, cranial vibration, hyperventilation, pressure to the external auditory canal, and loud sounds may disclose underlying vestibular dysfunction by inducing nystagmus or modulating the spontaneous nystagmus. In patients with positional vertigo, the diagnosis can be made by determining patterns of the nystagmus induced during various positional maneuvers that include straight head hanging, the Dix-Hallpike maneuver, supine head roll, and head turning and bending while sitting. Abnormal smooth pursuit and saccades, and severe imbalance also indicate central pathologies. Physicians should be familiar with bedside neurotological examinations and be aware of the clinical implications of the findings when evaluating dizzy patients.
dizziness; bedside examination; nystagmus; head impulse test
Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) can be defined as remote effects of cancer that are not caused by the tumor and its metastasis, or by infection, ischemia or metabolic disruptions. PNS are rare, affecting less than 1/10,000 patients with cancer. Only the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome is relatively frequent, occurring in about 1% of patients with small cell lung cancer. PNS can affect any part of the central and peripheral nervous system, the neuromuscular junction, and muscle. They can be isolated or occur in association. In most patients, the neurological disorder develops before the cancer becomes clinically overt and the patient is referred to the neurologist who has the charge of identifying a neurological disorder as paraneoplastic. PNS are usually severely disabling. The most common PNS are Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), subacute cerebellar ataxia, limbic encephalitis (LE), opsoclonus-myoclonus (OM), retinopathies (cancer-associated retinopathy (CAR) and melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR), Stiff-Person syndrome (SPS), chronic gastrointestinal pseudoobstruction (CGP), sensory neuronopathy (SSN), encephalomyelitis (EM) and dermatomyositis. PNS are caused by autoimmune processes triggered by the cancer and directed against antigens common to both the cancer and the nervous system, designated as onconeural antigens. Due to their high specificity (> 90%), the best way to diagnose a neurological disorder as paraneoplastic is to identify one of the well-characterized anti-onconeural protein antibodies in the patient's serum. In addition, as these antibodies are associated with a restricted range of cancers, they can guide the search for the underlying tumor at a stage when it is frequently not clinically overt. This is a critical point as, to date, the best way to stabilize PNS is to treat the cancer as soon as possible. Unfortunately, about one-third of patients do not have detectable antibodies and 5% to 10% have an atypical antibody that is not well-characterized. As PNS are believed to be immune-mediated, suppression of the immune response represents another treatment approach.
The Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor or AhR, a ligand-activated transcription factor, is known to mediate the toxic and carcinogenic effects of various environmental pollutants such as 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Recent studies in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster show that the orthologs of the AhR are expressed exclusively in certain types of neurons and are implicated in the development and the homeostasis of the central nervous system. While physiological roles of the AhR were demonstrated in the mammalian heart, liver and gametogenesis, its ontogenic expression and putative neural functions remain elusive. Here, we report that the constitutive absence of the AhR in adult mice (AhR−/−) leads to abnormal eye movements in the form of a spontaneous pendular horizontal nystagmus. To determine if the nystagmus is of vestibular, visual, or cerebellar origin, gaze stabilizing reflexes, namely vestibulo-ocular and optokinetic reflexes (VOR and OKR), were investigated. The OKR is less effective in the AhR−/− mice suggesting a deficit in the visuo-motor circuitry, while the VOR is mildly affected. Furthermore, the AhR is expressedin the retinal ganglion cells during the development, however electroretinograms revealed no impairment of retinal cell function. The structure of the cerebellum of the AhR−/− mice is normal which is compatible with the preserved VOR adaptation, a plastic process dependent on cerebellar integrity. Finally, intoxication with TCDD of control adults did not lead to any abnormality of the oculomotor control. These results demonstrate that the absence of the AhR leads to acquired central nervous system deficits in the adults. Given the many common features between both AhR mouse and human infantile nystagmus syndromes, the AhR−/− mice might give insights into the developmental mechanisms which lead to congenital eye disorders.
In recent years there is an increasing description of novel anti-neuronal antibodies that are associated with paraneoplastic and non-paraneoplastic neurological syndromes. These antibodies are useful in clinical practice to confirm the immunmediated origin of the neurological disorder and are helpful in tumor search. Currently, anti-neuronal antibodies can be classified according to the location of the recognized antigen into two groups, 1.) intraneuronal antigens and 2.) antigens located in the cell membrane. Different techniques are established for detecting these antibodies: tissue-based assay (TBA), cell-based assay (CBA), immunoblot, immunoprecipitation assay (IP), and ELISA. TBA detect most of the antibodies, however, different pretreatment methods of rat brain are necessary to visualize either Group 1 or 2 antibodies. Higher specificity is provided by immunoblots, applicable for Group 1 antibodies, and CBA, suitable for Group 2 antibodies. IP and ELISA may be useful for the detection of specific antibodies or to solve particular issues such as antibody titers. Diagnosis of paraneoplastic and non-paraneoplastic neurological syndromes has important implications on treatment and follow-up of patients. Selection and proper combination of test systems and appropriate knowledge of the clinical information will provide a maximum of sensitivity and specificity in identifying the associated antibody.
anti-neuronal antibodies; diagnosis; tissue-based assay; cell-based assay; immunoblot; sensitivity; specificity
In recent years there is an increasing description of novel anti-neuronal antibodies that are associated with paraneoplastic and non-paraneoplastic neurological syndromes. These antibodies are useful in clinical practice to confirm the immunmediated origin of the neurological disorder and are helpful in tumor search. Currently, antineuronal antibodies can be classified according to the location of the recognized antigen into two groups, 1.) intraneuronal antigens and 2.) antigens located in the cell membrane. Different techniques are established for detecting these antibodies: tissue-based assay (TBA), cell-based assay (CBA), immunoblot, immunoprecipitation assay (IP), and ELISA. TBA detect most of the antibodies, however, different pretreatment methods of rat brain are necessary to visualize either Group 1 or 2 antibodies. Higher specificity is provided by immunoblots, applicable for Group 1 antibodies, and CBA, suitable for Group 2 antibodies. IP and ELISA may be useful for the detection of specific antibodies or to solve particular issues such as antibody titers. Diagnosis of paraneoplastic and non-paraneoplastic neurological syndromes has important implications on treatment and follow-up of patients. Selection and proper combination of test systems and appropriate knowledge of the clinical information will provide a maximum of sensitivity and specificity in identifying the associated antibody.
anti-neuronal antibodies; diagnosis; tissue-based assay; cell-based assay; immunoblot; sensitivity; specificity
Adult opsoclonus‐myoclonus (OM), a disorder of eye movements accompanied by myoclonus affecting the trunk, limbs, or head, is commonly associated with an underlying malignancy or precipitated by viral infection.
We present the first two reports of post‐streptococcal OM associated with antibodies against a 56 kDa protein. Two young girls presented with opsoclonus and myoclonus following a febrile illness and pharyngitis. Protein purification techniques were employed. Amino acid sequences of human neuroleukin (NLK) and streptococcal proteins were compared using the protein‐protein BLAST application.
The antigen was identified as NLK (glucose‐6‐phosphate isomerase, GPI). GPI is present on the cell surface of streptococcus making the protein a candidate target for molecular mimicry.
We have identified NLK as an antigenic target in two patients with post‐streptococcal OM. The pathogenicity of the antibodies is uncertain. The potential role of anti‐neuroleukin antibodies in the pathogenesis of OM is discussed. We propose that OM may represent a further syndrome in the growing spectrum of post‐streptococcal neurological disorders. The role of streptococcus in OM and the frequency with which anti‐NLK responses occur in both post‐infectious and paraneoplastic OM should be investigated further.
antibodies; opsoclonus‐myoclonus; post‐infectious; streptococcus
Anti-Hu and anti-Ri antibodies are paraneoplastic immunoglobulin (Ig)G autoantibodies which recognize cytoplasmic and nuclear antigens present in all neurons. Although both antibodies produce similar immunohistological labeling, they recognize different neuronal proteins. Both antibodies are associated with syndromes of central nervous system dysfunction. However, the neurological deficits associated with anti-Hu antibody are associated with neuronal death and are usually irreversible, whereas neurological deficits in patients with anti-Ri antibody may diminish following tumor removal or immunosuppression.
To study the effect of anti-Hu and anti-Ri antibodies on neurons, we incubated rat hippocampal and cerebellar slice cultures with anti-Hu or anti-Ri sera from multiple patients. Cultures were evaluated in real time for neuronal antibody uptake and during prolonged incubation for neuronal death. To test the specificity of anti-Hu antibody cytotoxic effect, anti-Hu serum IgG was incubated with rat brain slice cultures prior to and after adsorption with its target Hu antigen, HuD.
We demonstrated that: 1) both anti-Hu and anti-Ri antibodies were rapidly taken up by neurons throughout both cerebellum and hippocampus; 2) antibody uptake occurred in living neurons and was not an artifact of antibody diffusion into dead cells; 3) intracellular binding of anti-Hu antibody produced neuronal cell death, whereas uptake of anti-Ri antibody did not affect cell viability during the period of study; and 4) adsorption of anti-Hu antisera against HuD greatly reduced intraneuronal IgG accumulation and abolished cytotoxicity, confirming specificity of antibody-mediated neuronal death.
Both anti-Hu and anti-Ri antibodies were readily taken up by viable neurons in slice cultures, but the two antibodies differed markedly in terms of their effects on neuronal viability. The ability of anti-Hu antibodies to cause neuronal death could account for the irreversible nature of paraneoplastic neurological deficits in patients with this antibody response. Our results raise questions as to whether anti-Ri antibody might initially induce reversible neuronal dysfunction, rather than causing cell death. The ability of IgG antibodies to access and react with intracellular neuronal proteins could have implications for other autoimmune diseases involving the central nervous system.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-014-0160-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Paraneoplastic syndromes; Anti-Hu antibody; Anti-Ri antibody; Neurons; Brain slice cultures; Organotypic brain cultures; Cell death; Apoptosis; Hu antigens ANNA-1; ANNA-2
To report the frequency and type of antibodies against neuronal surface antigens (NSA-ab) in limbic encephalitis (LE).
Analysis of clinical features, neuropathologic findings, and detection of NSA-ab using immunochemistry on rat tissue and neuronal cultures in a series of 45 patients with paraneoplastic (23) or idiopathic (22) LE.
NSA-ab were identified in 29 patients (64%; 12 paraneoplastic, 17 idiopathic). Thirteen patients had voltage-gated potassium channels (VGKC)-ab, 11 novel NSA (nNSA)-ab, and 5 NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-ab. nNSA-ab did not identify a common antigen and were more frequent in paraneoplastic than idiopathic LE (39% vs 9%; p = 0.03). When compared with VGKC-ab or NMDAR-ab, the nNSA associated more frequently with intraneuronal antibodies (11% vs 73%; p = 0.001). Of 12 patients (9 nNSA-ab, 2 VGKC-ab, 1 NMDAR-ab) with paraneoplastic LE and NSA-ab, concomitant intraneuronal antibodies occurred in 9 (75%). None of these 12 patients improved with immunotherapy. The autopsy of three of them showed neuronal loss, microgliosis, and cytotoxic T cell infiltrates in the hippocampus and amygdala. These findings were compatible with a T-cell mediated neuronal damage. In contrast, 13 of 17 (76%) patients with idiopathic LE and NSA-ab (8 VGKC-ab, 4 NMDAR-ab, 1 nNSA-ab) and 1 of 5 (20%) without antibodies had clinical improvement (p = 0.04).
In paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (LE), novel antibodies against neuronal surface antigens (nNSA-ab) occur frequently, coexist with antibodies against intracellular antigens, and these cases are refractory to immunotherapy. In idiopathic LE, the likelihood of improvement is significantly higher in patients with NSA-ab than in those without antibodies.
GAD = glutamic acid decarboxylase; LE = limbic encephalitis; NMDAR = N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor; NSA = neuronal surface antigens; nNSA = novel NSA; SCLC = small-cell lung cancer; VGKC = voltage-gated potassium channels; WBC = white blood cells.
Type I autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia (ADCA) is a type of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) characterized by ataxia with other neurological signs, including oculomotor disturbances, cognitive deficits, pyramidal and extrapyramidal dysfunction, bulbar, spinal and peripheral nervous system involvement. The global prevalence of this disease is not known. The most common type I ADCA is SCA3 followed by SCA2, SCA1, and SCA8, in descending order. Founder effects no doubt contribute to the variable prevalence between populations. Onset is usually in adulthood but cases of presentation in childhood have been reported. Clinical features vary depending on the SCA subtype but by definition include ataxia associated with other neurological manifestations. The clinical spectrum ranges from pure cerebellar signs to constellations including spinal cord and peripheral nerve disease, cognitive impairment, cerebellar or supranuclear ophthalmologic signs, psychiatric problems, and seizures. Cerebellar ataxia can affect virtually any body part causing movement abnormalities. Gait, truncal, and limb ataxia are often the most obvious cerebellar findings though nystagmus, saccadic abnormalities, and dysarthria are usually associated. To date, 21 subtypes have been identified: SCA1-SCA4, SCA8, SCA10, SCA12-SCA14, SCA15/16, SCA17-SCA23, SCA25, SCA27, SCA28 and dentatorubral pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA). Type I ADCA can be further divided based on the proposed pathogenetic mechanism into 3 subclasses: subclass 1 includes type I ADCA caused by CAG repeat expansions such as SCA1-SCA3, SCA17, and DRPLA, subclass 2 includes trinucleotide repeat expansions that fall outside of the protein-coding regions of the disease gene including SCA8, SCA10 and SCA12. Subclass 3 contains disorders caused by specific gene deletions, missense mutation, and nonsense mutation and includes SCA13, SCA14, SCA15/16, SCA27 and SCA28. Diagnosis is based on clinical history, physical examination, genetic molecular testing, and exclusion of other diseases. Differential diagnosis is broad and includes secondary ataxias caused by drug or toxic effects, nutritional deficiencies, endocrinopathies, infections and post-infection states, structural abnormalities, paraneoplastic conditions and certain neurodegenerative disorders. Given the autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance, genetic counseling is essential and best performed in specialized genetic clinics. There are currently no known effective treatments to modify disease progression. Care is therefore supportive. Occupational and physical therapy for gait dysfunction and speech therapy for dysarthria is essential. Prognosis is variable depending on the type of ADCA and even among kindreds.
The goal of this study is to determine whether patients with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) have a specific repertoire of antibodies, if SOX1 antibodies (SOX1-ab) can predict the presence of SCLC, and if antibodies to cell surface antigens occur in this syndrome. Antibody analysis was done using immunohistochemistry on rat brain, immunoblot with recombinant antigens, screening of cDNA expression libraries, and immunolabeling of live neurons in 39 patients with PCD and SCLC. VGCC-ab were measured by RIA, and SOX1-ab, Hu-ab, and ZIC4-ab by immunoblot. Lambert-Eaton myastenic syndrome (LEMS) was present in 10 of 23 patients with electrophysiological studies. At least one antibody was detected in 72% of patients. The individual frequencies were: 49% SOX1-ab, 44% VGCC-ab, 31% Hu-ab, and 13% ZIC4-ab. SOX1-ab occurred in 76% of patients with VGCC-ab and 27% of those without VGCC-ab (p = 0.0036). SOX1-ab were not found in 39 patients with sporadic late-onset cerebellar ataxia, 23 with cerebellar ataxia and glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies, and 73 with PCD and cancer types other than SCLC (31 without onconeural antibodies, 25 with Yo-ab , 17 with Tr-ab). Five patients (13%) had antibodies against unknown neuronal cell surface antigens but none of them improved with immunotherapy. One serum immunoreacted against the axon initial segment of neurons and another serum against ELKS1, a protein highly expressed in the cerebellum that interacts with the beta4-subunit of the VGCC. In conclusion, 72% of patients with PCD and SCLC had one or more antibodies that indicate the presence of this tumor. In these patients, VGCC-ab and SOX1-ab occur tightly associated. SOX1-ab are predictors of SCLC in ataxia patients with a specificity of 100% and sensitivity of 49%. Unlike limbic encephalitis with SCLC, antibodies to cell surface antigens other than VGCC-ab, are infrequent and do not predict response to treatment.
The concept of antibody mediated CNS disorders is relatively recent. The classical CNS paraneoplastic neurological syndromes are thought to be T cell mediated, and the onconeural antibodies merely biomarkers for the presence of the tumour. Thus it was thought that antibodies rarely, if ever, cause CNS disease. Over the past 10 years, identification of autoimmune forms of encephalitis with antibodies against neuronal surface antigens, particularly the voltage gated potassium channel complex proteins or the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, have shown that CNS disorders, often without associated tumours, can be antibody mediated and benefit from immunomodulatory therapies. The clinical spectrum of these diseases is not yet fully explored, there may be others yet to be discovered and some types of more common disorders (eg, epilepsy or psychosis) may prove to have an autoimmune basis. Here, the known conditions associated with neuronal surface antibodies are briefly reviewed, some general aspects of these syndromes are considered and guidelines that could help in the recognition of further disorders are suggested.
AIM—To indicate that congenital idiopathic nystagmus (CIN) and sensory defect nystagmus (SDN) can be vertical or asymmetric in some children.
METHODS—Of 276 children presenting with nystagmus for electrophysiological testing, 14 were identified as having CIN or SDN, yet had a nystagmus which was either vertical (n=11) or horizontal asymmetric (n=3). Flash electroretinograms and flash and pattern visual evoked potentials (VEPs) were recorded in all patients. Eye movement assessment, including horizontal optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) testing, was carried out in 11/14 patients.
RESULTS—Eight patients (seven with vertical, one with asymmetric horizontal nystagmus) had congenital cone dysfunction. One patient with vertical and another with asymmetric nystagmus had cone-rod dystrophy. One patient with vertical upbeat had congenital stationary night blindness. Two patients (one downbeat, one upbeat nystagmus) had normal electrophysiological, clinical, and brain magnetic resonance imaging findings and were classified as having CIN. One patient with asymmetric nystagmus showed electrophysiological and clinical findings associated with albinism. Horizontal OKN was present in 80% of patients tested, including the three cases with horizontal asymmetric nystagmus. This is atypical in both CIN and SDN, where the OKN is usually absent.
CONCLUSIONS—Vertical and asymmetric nystagmus are most commonly associated with serious intracranial pathology and its presence is an indication for neuroimaging studies. However, such nystagmus can occur in children with retinal disease, albinism, and in cases with CIN. These findings stress the importance of non-invasive VEP/ERG testing in all cases of typical and also atypical nystagmus.
Periodic alternating nystagmus consists of involuntary oscillations of the eyes with cyclical changes of nystagmus direction. It can occur during infancy (e.g. idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus) or later in life. Acquired forms are often associated with cerebellar dysfunction arising due to instability of the optokinetic-vestibular systems. Idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus can be familial or occur in isolation; however, very little is known about the clinical characteristics, genetic aetiology and neural substrates involved. Five loci (NYS1-5) have been identified for idiopathic infantile nystagmus; three are autosomal (NYS2, NYS3 and NYS4) and two are X-chromosomal (NYS1 and NYS5). We previously identified the FRMD7 gene on chromosome Xq26 (NYS1 locus); mutations of FRMD7 are causative of idiopathic infantile nystagmus influencing neuronal outgrowth and development. It is unclear whether the periodic alternating nystagmus phenotype is linked to NYS1, NYS5 (Xp11.4-p11.3) or a separate locus. From a cohort of 31 X-linked families and 14 singletons (70 patients) with idiopathic infantile nystagmus we identified 10 families and one singleton (21 patients) with periodic alternating nystagmus of which we describe clinical phenotype, genetic aetiology and neural substrates involved. Periodic alternating nystagmus was not detected clinically but only on eye movement recordings. The cycle duration varied from 90 to 280 s. Optokinetic reflex was not detectable horizontally. Mutations of the FRMD7 gene were found in all 10 families and the singleton (including three novel mutations). Periodic alternating nystagmus was predominantly associated with missense mutations within the FERM domain. There was significant sibship clustering of the phenotype although in some families not all affected members had periodic alternating nystagmus. In situ hybridization studies during mid-late human embryonic stages in normal tissue showed restricted FRMD7 expression in neuronal tissue with strong hybridization signals within the afferent arms of the vestibulo-ocular reflex consisting of the otic vesicle, cranial nerve VIII and vestibular ganglia. Similarly within the afferent arm of the optokinetic reflex we showed expression in the developing neural retina and ventricular zone of the optic stalk. Strong FRMD7 expression was seen in rhombomeres 1 to 4, which give rise to the cerebellum and the common integrator site for both these reflexes (vestibular nuclei). Based on the expression and phenotypic data, we hypothesize that periodic alternating nystagmus arises from instability of the optokinetic-vestibular systems. This study shows for the first time that mutations in FRMD7 can cause idiopathic infantile periodic alternating nystagmus and may affect neuronal circuits that have been implicated in acquired forms.
periodic alternating nystagmus; FRMD7; optokinetic reflex; vestibulo-ocular reflex; in situ hybridization
To determine the characteristics of adult-onset autoimmune chorea, and compare paraneoplastic and idiopathic subgroups.
Thirty-six adults with autoimmune chorea were identified at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) from 1997 to 2012. Medical record and laboratory data were recorded. Nonparaneoplastic (n = 22) and paraneoplastic cases (n = 14) were compared.
Women accounted for 21 patients (58%). Median age at symptom onset was 67 years (range 18–87 years). We estimated the incidence for Olmsted County was 1.5 per million person-years. Symptom onset was subacute in all. Chorea was focal (20 patients) or generalized (16 patients). Although chorea predominated, other neurologic disorders frequently coexisted (29 patients); abnormal eye movements were uncommon (4 patients). No patient had NMDA receptor antibody or any immunoglobulin (Ig)G yielding a detectable immunofluorescence binding pattern restricted to basal ganglia. Two had synaptic IgG antibodies novel to the context of chorea (GAD65, 1; CASPR2, 1). In the paraneoplastic group, 14 patients had evidence of cancer. Of 13 with a histopathologically confirmed neoplasm, small-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma were most common; 6 patients had a cancer-predictive paraneoplastic autoantibody, with CRMP-5–IgG and ANNA-1 being most common. In the idiopathic group, 19 of the 22 patients had a coexisting autoimmune disorder (most frequently systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome); autoantibodies were detected in 21 patients, most frequently lupus and phospholipid specificities (19 patients). The paraneoplastic group was older (p = 0.001), more frequently male (p = 0.006), had more frequent weight loss (p = 0.02), and frequently had peripheral neuropathy (p = 0.008).
Autoimmune chorea is a rare disorder with rapid onset. Male sex, older age, severe chorea, coexisting peripheral neuropathy, and weight loss increase the likelihood of cancer.