A large screen for paraneoplastic neurological autoantibodies; diagnosis and predictive values

Lior Seluk, Alisa Taliansky, Hagith Yonath, Boris Gilburd, Howard Amital, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Shaye Kivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) are a group of syndromes that affect the central and peripheral neuromuscular system in association with cancer. Specific antibodies may assist in the diagnosis of PNS. The antibodies tested can be classified into those directed against intracellular neuronal proteins (“well characterized” PNS: Hu, Yo, RI, CV2, amphiphysin, Ma1, Ma2) and those directed against neural surface antigens (autoimmune encephalitis syndromes: NMDA, AMPA, LGI1, CASPR2, GABAR). We aimed to characterize patients with unexplained neuropsychiatric symptoms, in whom positive PNS antibodies were detected in the Sheba medical center, a large referral hospital. Methods: Clinical and demographic data of patients with positive PNS antibodies were collected during the years 2002–2016. Antibodies were tested by either Line immunoassay or by cell-based indirect immunofluorscent assay. Results: During the follow up of 14 years, 4010 PNS tests were performed in patients with unexplained neuropsychiatric symptoms. Seventy-two were found to be positive; among them we had full clinical data access to 44. The most frequent antibodies were anti-Hu (31.8%), anti-Yo (18.2%), anti-CV2 (13.6%), and anti-NMDA (9.1%), and the most common cancers were small-cell lung (SCLC) and ovarian cancers. In the well characterized paraneoplastic group, cancer was diagnosed in 55.9% of the patients, and in the autoimmune encephalitis group, 40.0% were diagnosed with cancer. A positive correlation between antibody titer and the presence of cancer was found. Ninety percent of the tests in patients who were found positive were ordered by a neurologist or neuro-oncologist. Conclusions: The titers of PNS auto-antibodies can predict cancer in patients whom anti-PNS antibodies are tested. In addition, consultation with a specialist should be considered before this test is ordered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Immunology
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Autoimmunity
  • Cancer
  • Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes
  • Small cell lung cancer


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