Prostate cancer, Hu antibodies and paraneoplastic neurological syndromes

J Neurol. 2016 May;263(5):1001-1007. doi: 10.1007/s00415-016-8090-7. Epub 2016 Mar 23.


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American and European men. Nervous system affection caused by local tumor growth or osseous metastases are the main causes of neurological symptoms in prostate cancer patients. Prostate cancer is rarely reported in association with paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS). We have, therefore, studied clinical and paraclinical findings of a series of patients with prostate cancer and PNS, and reviewed cases reported in the literature. Case histories of 14 patients with definite PNS from the PNS Euronetwork database and from the authors' databases were reviewed. A PubMed literature search identified 23 patients with prostate cancer and PNS. Thus, a total of 37 case histories were reviewed with respect to syndrome type, cancer evolution, paraclinical investigations, antibody status, treatment and outcome. The three most frequent isolated PNS were paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration, paraneoplastic encephalomyelitis (PEM)/limbic encephalitis and subacute sensory neuronopathy (SSN). Onconeural antibodies were detected in 23 patients, in most cases the Hu antibody (17 patients, 74 % of all antibody-positive cases). Other well-characterized onconeural antibodies (Yo, CV2/CRMP5, amphiphysin, VGCC antibodies) were found in a minority. PNS was diagnosed prior to prostate cancer diagnosis in 50 % of the cases. The association of PNS with prostate cancer is quite infrequent, but clinically important. PNS often heralds prostate cancer diagnosis. Syndromes associated with Hu antibodies predominate. Another tumor more prone to associate with PNS should always be excluded.

Keywords: Onconeural antibodies; Paraneoplastic neurological syndrome; Prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Databases, Factual
  • ELAV Proteins / immunology*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Nervous System / complications*
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Nervous System / diagnostic imaging
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Nervous System / immunology*
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Nervous System / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Autoantibodies
  • ELAV Proteins