Paraneoplastic neuronal intermediate filament autoimmunity

Eati Basal, Nicholas Zalewski, Thomas J. Kryzer, Shannon R. Hinson, Yong Guo, Divyanshu Dubey, Eduardo E. Benarroch, Claudia F Lucchinetti, Sean J Pittock, Vanda A Lennon, Andrew McKeon

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OBJECTIVE: To describe paraneoplastic neuronal intermediate filament (NIF) autoimmunity.

METHODS: Archived patient and control serum and CSF specimens were evaluated by tissue-based indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Autoantigens were identified by Western blot and mass spectrometry. NIF specificity was confirmed by dual tissue section staining and 5 recombinant NIF-specific HEK293 cell-based assays (CBAs, for α-internexin, neurofilament light [NfL], neurofilament medium, or neurofilament heavy chain, and peripherin). NIF-immunoglobulin Gs (IgGs) were correlated with neurologic syndromes and cancers.

RESULTS: Among 65 patients, NIF-IgG-positive by IFA and CBAs, 33 were female (51%). Median symptom onset age was 62 years (range 18-88). Patients fell into 2 groups, defined by the presence of NfL-IgG (21 patients, who mostly had ≥4 NIF-IgGs detected) or its absence (44 patients, who mostly had ≤2 NIF-IgGs detected). Among NfL-IgG-positive patients, 19/21 had ≥1 subacute onset CNS disorders: cerebellar ataxia (11), encephalopathy (11), or myelopathy (2). Cancers were detected in 16 of 21 patients (77%): carcinomas of neuroendocrine lineage (10) being most common (small cell [5], Merkel cell [3], other neuroendocrine [2]). Two of 257 controls (0.8%, both with small cell carcinoma) were positive by both IFA and CBA. Five of 7 patients with immunotherapy data improved. By comparison, the 44 NfL-IgG-negative patients had findings of unclear significance: diverse nervous system disorders (p = 0.006), as well as limited (p = 0.003) and more diverse (p < 0.0001) cancer accompaniments.

CONCLUSIONS: NIF-IgG detection by IFA, with confirmatory CBA testing that yields a profile including NfL-IgG, defines a paraneoplastic CNS disorder (usually ataxia or encephalopathy) accompanying neuroendocrine lineage neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1677-e1689
Issue number18
StatePublished - Oct 30 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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