Author(s): Blaes F, Tschernatsch M
The article provides an overview on the diagnosis and pathogenesis of paraneoplastic neurological disorders (PNDs), and subsequently the current therapeutic strategies in these patients. PNDs are nervous system dysfunctions in cancer patients, which are not due to a local effect of the tumor or its metastases. Most of these clinically defined syndromes in adults are associated with lung cancer, especially small-cell lung cancer, lymphoma and gynecological tumors. In a part of the PND, an overlapping of different clinical syndromes can be observed. Highly specific autoantibodies directed against onconeuronal antigens led to the current hypothesis of an autoimmune pathophysiology. Whereas the most central nervous PNDs are more T-cell-mediated, limbic encephalitis can be caused by pathogenic receptor autoantibodies. The PND of the neuromuscular junction and paraneoplastic autonomic neuropathy are mainly associated with receptor or ion channel autoantibodies. The childhood opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome and the PNDs associated with receptor/ion channel autoantibodies often respond to immunosuppressive therapies, plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulins. By contrast, most CNS PNDs associated with defined antineuronal antibodies directed against intracellular antigens only stabilize after tumor treatment.