Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome: from clinical characteristics to therapeutic strategies

Lancet Neurol. 2011 Dec;10(12):1098-107. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(11)70245-9.


Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a neuromuscular autoimmune disease that has served as a model for autoimmunity and tumour immunology. In LEMS, the characteristic muscle weakness is thought to be caused by pathogenic autoantibodies directed against voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCC) present on the presynaptic nerve terminal. Half of patients with LEMS have an associated tumour, small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), which also expresses functional VGCC. Knowledge of this association led to the discovery of a wide range of paraneoplastic and non-tumour-related neurological disorders of the peripheral and central nervous systems. Detailed clinical studies have improved our diagnostic skills and knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms and association of LEMS with SCLC, and have helped with the development of a protocol for early tumour detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Aminopyridine / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Aminopyridine / therapeutic use
  • Amifampridine
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Calcium Channels / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome / complications
  • Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Calcium Channels
  • 4-Aminopyridine
  • Amifampridine