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Neurology. 2005 Dec 13;65(11):1730-6.

Serum antibodies in epilepsy and seizure-associated disorders.

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1
Neurosciences Group, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DS, United Kingdom.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate whether autoantibodies to ion channels and other neural antigens are present in the sera of patients with epilepsy and seizure-related diseases.

METHODS:

Sera were obtained from 139 patients, including 26 with preexisting autoimmune disease, 46 in whom an autoimmune basis was suspected, and 67 with drug-resistant epilepsy. The sera were assayed for antibodies to voltage-gated potassium (VGKC) and calcium (VGCC) channels, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), gangliosides, glutamate receptor type 3, cardiolipins, DNA, and nuclear antigens; the results were compared with results from a large cohort of healthy and disease controls.

RESULTS:

Increased titers of VGKC antibodies (>100 pM) were detected in 16 of 139 (11%) patients with seizures but only 1 control (0.5%). Eight VGKC-positive patients presented with an acute/subacute illness, and 5 of these had the highest VGKC antibodies; 3 patients improved spontaneously, another 5 patients responded well to immunomodulatory therapy. The other VGKC-positive patients had longer disease duration (>6 years) and intermediate levels of antibodies; immunotherapies have not been tested in this group. Very high levels of GAD antibodies (>1,000 U) were found in an additional 3 patients (2.1%) with long-standing drug-resistant epilepsy.

CONCLUSIONS:

The presence of autoantibodies to voltage-gated potassium channels and glutamic acid decarboxylase suggests that the immune system may contribute to certain forms of epilepsy or seizure-associated disorders. Further studies are needed to determine whether the antibodies are pathogenic.

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