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Original Investigation
April 2016

Clinical and Immunological Features of Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome in the Era of Neuronal Cell Surface Antibodies

Author Affiliations
  • 1Neuroimmunology Program, Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Service of Neurology, University Hospital Politècnic La Fe, Valencia, Spain
  • 3Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain
  • 4Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 5Service of Neurology, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain
JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(4):417-424. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4607

Importance  Most studies on opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS) in adults are based on small case series before the era of neuronal cell surface antibody discovery.

Objective  To report the clinical and immunological features of idiopathic OMS (I-OMS) and paraneoplastic OMS (P-OMS), the occurrence of antibodies to cell surface antigens, and the discovery of a novel cell surface epitope.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Retrospective cohort study and laboratory investigations of 114 adult patients with OMS at a center for autoimmune neurological disorders done between January 2013 and September 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Review of clinical records. Immunohistochemistry on rat brain and cultured neurons as well as cell-based assays were used to identify known autoantibodies. Immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry were used to characterize novel antigens.

Results  Of the 114 patients (62 [54%] female; median age, 45 years; interquartile range, 32-60 years), 45 (39%) had P-OMS and 69 (61%) had I-OMS. In patients with P-OMS, the associated tumors included lung cancer (n = 19), breast cancer (n = 10), other cancers (n = 5), and ovarian teratoma (n = 8); 3 additional patients without detectable cancer were considered to have P-OMS because they had positive results for onconeuronal antibodies. Patients with I-OMS, compared with those who had P-OMS, were younger (median age, 38 [interquartile range, 31-50] vs 54 [interquartile range, 45-65] years; P < .001), presented more often with prodromal symptoms or active infection (33% vs 13%; P = .02), less frequently had encephalopathy (10% vs 29%; P = .01), and had better outcome (defined by a modified Rankin Scale score ≤2 at last visit; 84% vs 39%; P < .001) with fewer relapses (7% vs 24%; P = .04). Onconeuronal antibodies occurred in 13 patients (11%), mostly Ri/ANNA2 antibodies, which were detected in 7 of 10 patients (70%) with breast cancer. Neuronal surface antibodies were identified in 12 patients (11%), mainly glycine receptor antibodies (9 cases), which predominated in P-OMS with lung cancer (21% vs 5% in patients with OMS without lung cancer; P = .02); however, a similar frequency of glycine receptor antibodies was found in patients with lung cancer without OMS (13 of 65 patients [20%]). A novel cell surface epitope, human natural killer 1 (HNK-1), was the target of the antibodies in 3 patients with lung cancer and P-OMS.

Conclusions and Relevance  Patients with I-OMS responded better to treatment and had fewer relapses than those with P-OMS. Older age and encephalopathy, significantly associated with P-OMS, are clinical clues suggesting an underlying tumor. Glycine receptor antibodies occur frequently in P-OMS with lung cancer, but the sensitivity and specificity are low. The HNK-1 epitope is a novel epitope in a subset of patients with P-OMS and lung cancer.