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Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;115:713-26. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52902-2.00041-2.

Paraneoplastic neuropathy.

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Department of Neurology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan.


Recent progress in serological screening of paraneoplastic antibodies and in diagnostic imaging techniques to detect malignancies has enabled a broadening of the concept of paraneoplastic neurological syndromes by integrating nonclassic clinical features. The peripheral nervous system is frequently involved in patients with paraneoplastic syndrome and may be seen alone or in combination with involvement of other areas of the nervous system. Destruction of dorsal root ganglion cells due to lymphocytic infiltration, especially with CD8-positive cytotoxic T cells, has been postulated to mediate the classic syndrome of subacute sensory neuronopathy. However, the motor and autonomic nervous systems are frequently affected. Indeed, patients can develop clinical features compatible with Guillain-Barré syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, or brachial plexopathy. Other forms of paraneoplastic neuropathy are vasculitic neuropathy, autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy, and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Various onconeural antibodies, including anti-Hu, anti-CV2/CRMP-5, and anti-ganglionic acetylcholine receptor antibodies, are associated with neuropathy. Somatic neuropathy is the most common manifestation in patients with anti-Hu and anti-CV2/CRMP-5 antibodies, while anti-ganglionic acetylcholine receptor antibody is associated with autonomic neuropathies. A whole-body fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scan may be useful to detect malignancy in patients with unremarkable conventional radiological findings. Recognition and diagnosis of paraneoplastic neuropathy is important, as neuropathic symptoms usually precede the identification of the primary tumor, and treatment at an earlier stage provides better chances of good outcomes.


Guillain–Barré syndrome; autonomic neuropathy; chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction; neuropathy; paraneoplastic neuropathy; paraneoplastic syndrome; sensory neuronopathy; vasculitic neuropathy; vasculitis

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