Calcium channel autoantibodies in the lambert‐eaton myasthenic syndrome

Leys, Katherine; Lang, Bethan; Johnston, Irene and Newsom-Davis, John (1991). Calcium channel autoantibodies in the lambert‐eaton myasthenic syndrome. Annals of Neurology, 29(3) pp. 307–314.



We have tested 36 patients with the Lambert‐Eaton myasthenic syndrome for serum antibodies to voltage‐gated calcium channels by using an immunoprecipitation assay with [125I] ω‐conotoxin–labeled voltage‐gated calcium channels extracted from a human neuroblastoma cell line, SKN‐SH. Forty‐four percent of these patients had significant levels of antibody (30–1,466 pM) compared with healthy control individuals (< 15 pM). The incidence of positive sera in patients without associated small cell lung carcinoma (61%) was greater than in those patients with small cell lung carcinoma (28%). Results correlated strongly with results obtained using voltage‐gated calcium channels extracted from the small cell lung carcinoma line, MAR5. Anti–voltage‐gated calcium channel antibody titers did not correlate with disease severity across individuals, but longitudinal studies in 2 patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy showed a clear inverse relation between antibody titer and an electromyographic index of disease severity. The incidence of positive sera among patients with other neurological disorders was not significant, but 8 of 12 patients with rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus had raised titers (30–82 pM). We conclude that the antibodies detected in this assay are heterogeneous and that some of them are likely to be implicated in this disorder of neuromuscular transmission. The assay should prove useful as an additional diagnostic aid in patients with Lambert‐Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

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