Gangliosides act as onconeural antigens in paraneoplastic neuropathies

Luca De Toni, Silvia Marconi, Ettore Nardelli, Daniela Alberti, Giovanna Borsellino, Giulio Fracasso, Simona Bach, Laura Bertolasi, Antonio Santo, Antonella Bassi, Daniela Tramonti, Luca Battistini, Bruno Bonetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe two patients with progressive neuropathy and lung cancer in whom gangliosides (GS) may represent the oncoantigens. Patient 1 had motor neuropathy, high titers of IgG 1 and IgG 3 to GD1a and GM1, and expansion of circulating γ-δ T lymphocytes, a T-cell subset responding to glycolipids. Patient 2 presented with Miller-Fisher-like syndrome and IgG 3 activity to disialo-GS. In both cases, decreased autoimmune responses and stabilization of neuropathy were accomplished by tumor treatment. By immunohistochemistry, patient 1's IgG bound to his own tumor and to structures of normal nervous system expressing GD1a or GM1. Infiltration of IgG in the same neural structures was found at his autopsy. Regarding cellular immunity, the proportion of γ-δ T lymphocytes infiltrating carcinoma from patient 1 was significantly higher than in neoplastic controls. These results indicate that GS may represent onconeural antigens in paraneoplastic neuropathy (PNN); their expression on neoplastic tissue may elicit autoimmune responses, which also target neural structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • γ-δ T lymphocytes
  • Autoantibodies
  • Gangliosides
  • Onconeural antigens
  • Peripheral neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Neurology


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