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Revue neurologique

[Dosage and specificity of anti-calcium channel antibodies in Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome].


PMID 15269657

Abstract

Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is an autoimmune channelopathy in which patients produce autoantibodies directed against voltage-gated calcium channels. Autoantibodies down-regulate calcium channels resulting in reduced transmitter release, which in turn leads to muscular weakness and autonomic dysfunction. LEMS is paraneoplastic in 60-70% of patients, most frequently associated with small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC). SCLC lines express many neuronal and neuroendocrine proteins including neuronal calcium channels of the Cav2 family (P/Q and N-type channels). It is thus likely that the paraneoplastic form of LEMS is the consequence of an anti-tumoral immune response and the production of antibodies that cross-react with identical or homologous antigens in nerve terminals. Neurological symptoms generally appear several Months before detection of the tumor. Consequently correct diagnosis of LEMS is crucial as it can allow early treatment of a particularly aggressive carcinoma. Based on published studies, our laboratory has set-up serological assays for LEMS autoantibodies as an aid to diagnosis. Calcium channels in detergent extracts of rat brain or cerebellum membranes were labeled with radioligands specific for N-type (125I-omega conotoxin GVIA) or P/Q-type (125I-omega conotoxin MVIIC) calcium channels. Autoantibodies that immunoprecipitate the ligand/channel complex can thus be titrated. Analysis of 31 LEMS sera revealed the presence of anti-N type channel antibodies in 58% and anti-P/Q type channel antibodies in 74% of patients with titres ranging from 90 to 2950 pM. Only 5 patients were seronegative in both tests, thus a combination of the two assays reliably detected autoantibodies in 26/31 (84%) patients.

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