Acquired neuromyotonia: evidence for autoantibodies directed against K+ channels of peripheral nerves

Ann Neurol. 1995 Nov;38(5):714-22. doi: 10.1002/ana.410380505.


Acquired neuromyotonia is characterized by hyperexcitability of motor nerves leading to muscle twitching, cramps, and weakness. The symptoms may improve following plasma exchange, and injection of immunoglobulin G (IgG) from 1 neuromyotonia patient into mice increased the resistance of neuromuscular transmission to d-tubocurarine. Here we examine nerves and muscle in vitro from mice injected with plasma or purified IgG from 6 neuromyotonia patients or pooled control subjects, and cultured dorsal root ganglion cells after treatment with IgG. Three of the patients had antibodies against human voltage-gated potassium channels labeled with 125I-alpha-dendrotoxin. The quantal release of acetylcholine (quantal content) at end-plates in diaphragms from mice treated with neuromyotonia IgG preparations was increased by 21% relative to control values (p = 0.0053). With one IgG preparation, the duration of the superficial peroneal nerve compound action currents was increased by 93%. The dorsal root ganglion cells treated with this IgG showed a marked increase in repetitive firing of action potentials. All effects were similar to those obtained with aminopyridines. We conclude that at least some patients with acquired neuromyotonia have antibodies directed against aminopyridine- or alpha-dendrotoxin-sensitive K+ channels in motor and sensory neurons, and they are likely to be implicated in the disease process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-Aminopyridine / pharmacology
  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diaphragm / drug effects
  • Diaphragm / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Myotonia / immunology
  • Myotonia / physiopathology*
  • Myotonia / therapy
  • Neuromuscular Depolarizing Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Potassium Channels / immunology*
  • Rats
  • Spinal Nerves / drug effects
  • Spinal Nerves / physiopathology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Neuromuscular Depolarizing Agents
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Potassium Channels
  • 4-Aminopyridine
  • Acetylcholine