Paraneoplastic neuropathies

Curr Opin Neurol. 2017 Oct;30(5):513-520. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000475.


Purpose of review: To review recent advances in paraneoplastic neuropathies with emphasis on their definition, different forms and therapeutic development.

Recent findings: A strict definition of definite paraneoplastic neuropathies is necessary to avoid confusion. With carcinoma, seronegative sensory neuronopathies and neuronopathies and anti-Hu and anti-CV2/Contactin Response Mediator Protein 5 antibodies are the most frequent. With lymphomas, most neuropathies occur with monoclonal gammopathy including AL amyloidosis, Polyneuropathy-Organomegaly-Endocrinopathy-M component-Skin changes (POEMS) syndrome, type I cryoglobulinemia and antimyelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) neuropathies and Waldenström's disease. Neuropathies improving with tumor treatment are occasional, occur with a variety of cancer and include motor neuron disease, chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy and nerve vasculitis. If antibodies toward intracellular antigens are well characterized, it is not the case for antibodies toward cell membrane proteins. Contactin-associated protein-2 antibodies occur with neuromyotonia and thymoma with the Morvan's syndrome in addition to Netrin 1 receptor antibodies but may not be responsible for peripheral nerve hyperexcitability. The treatment of AL amyloidosis, POEMS syndrome, anti-MAG neuropathy and cryoglobulinemia is now relatively well established. It is not the case with onconeural antibodies for which the rarity of the disorders and a short therapeutic window are limiting factors for the development of clinical trials.

Summary: A strict definition of paraneoplastic neuropathies helps their identification and is necessary to allow an early diagnosis of the underlying tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Paraneoplastic Polyneuropathy / classification
  • Paraneoplastic Polyneuropathy / immunology
  • Paraneoplastic Polyneuropathy / therapy*
  • Paraproteinemias / etiology
  • Paraproteinemias / therapy


  • Autoantibodies