Increased Prevalence of Familial Autoimmune Disease in Children With Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2021 Sep 2;8(6):e1079. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000001079. Print 2021 Nov.


Background and objectives: Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS) is a rare autoimmune disorder associated with neuroblastoma in children, although idiopathic and postinfectious etiologies are present in children and adults. Small cohort studies in homogenous populations have revealed elevated rates of autoimmunity in family members of patients with OMS, although no differentiation between paraneoplastic and nonparaneoplastic forms has been performed. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of autoimmune disease in first-degree relatives of pediatric patients with paraneoplastic and nonparaneoplastic OMS.

Methods: A single-center cohort study of consecutively evaluated children with OMS was performed. Parents of patients were prospectively administered surveys on familial autoimmune disease. Rates of autoimmune disease in first-degree relatives of pediatric patients with OMS were compared using Fisher exact t test and χ2 analysis: (1) between those with and without a paraneoplastic cause and (2) between healthy and disease (pediatric multiple sclerosis [MS]) controls from the United States Pediatric MS Network.

Results: Thirty-five patients (18 paraneoplastic, median age at onset 19.0 months; 17 idiopathic, median age at onset 25.0 months) and 68 first-degree relatives (median age 41.9 years) were enrolled. One patient developed systemic lupus erythematosus 7 years after OMS onset. Paraneoplastic OMS was associated with a 50% rate of autoimmune disease in a first-degree relative compared with 29% in idiopathic OMS (p = 0.31). The rate of first-degree relative autoimmune disease per OMS case (14/35, 40%) was higher than healthy controls (86/709, 12%; p < 0.001) and children with pediatric MS (101/495, 20%; p = 0.007).

Discussion: In a cohort of pediatric patients with OMS, there were elevated rates of first-degree relative autoimmune disease, with no difference in rates observed between paraneoplastic and idiopathic etiologies, suggesting an autoimmune genetic contribution to the development of OMS in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Family
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome / genetics*
  • Prevalence