Neuromuscular hyperexcitability is a characteristic of Isaacs' syndrome. Autoantibodies specific for voltage-gated potassium channels (VGKC) or ganglionic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChR) are markers of this disorder. To determine the frequency of these ion channel antibodies and of related neuron- and muscle-specific antibodies in patients with acquired neuromuscular hyperexcitability, we tested serum specimens from 77 affected patients (35 neuromyotonia, 32 cramp-fasciculation syndrome, 5 rippling muscle syndrome, and 5 focal neuromuscular hyperexcitability) and 85 control subjects. Among study patients, 14% had coexisting myasthenia gravis, and 16% had an associated neoplasm. We found that 35% had VGKC antibodies, 12% ganglionic AChR antibodies, 16% muscle AChR antibodies, and 10% striational antibodies. Overall, 55% had serological evidence of neurological autoimmunity compared to 2% of control subjects. Patients with neuromyotonia were more frequently seropositive (71%) than patients with cramp-fasciculation syndrome (31%). We conclude that acquired neuromuscular hyperexcitability consists of a continuum of clinical disorders with a common autoimmune pathogenesis.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Muscle Nerve 26: 702-707, 2002