Intracellular and non-neuronal targets of voltage-gated potassium channel complex antibodies.
Lang B., Makuch M., Moloney T., Dettmann I., Mindorf S., Probst C., Stoecker W., Buckley C., Newton CR., Leite MI., Maddison P., Komorowski L., Adcock J., Vincent A., Waters P., Irani SR.
OBJECTIVES: Autoantibodies against the extracellular domains of the voltage-gated potassium channel (VGKC) complex proteins, leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 (LGI1) and contactin-associated protein-2 (CASPR2), are found in patients with limbic encephalitis, faciobrachial dystonic seizures, Morvan's syndrome and neuromyotonia. However, in routine testing, VGKC complex antibodies without LGI1 or CASPR2 reactivities (double-negative) are more common than LGI1 or CASPR2 specificities. Therefore, the target(s) and clinical associations of double-negative antibodies need to be determined. METHODS: Sera (n=1131) from several clinically defined cohorts were tested for IgG radioimmunoprecipitation of radioiodinated α-dendrotoxin (125I-αDTX)-labelled VGKC complexes from mammalian brain extracts. Positive samples were systematically tested for live hippocampal neuron reactivity, IgG precipitation of 125I-αDTX and 125I-αDTX-labelled Kv1 subunits, and by cell-based assays which expressed Kv1 subunits, LGI1 and CASPR2. RESULTS: VGKC complex antibodies were found in 162 of 1131 (14%) sera. 90 of these (56%) had antibodies targeting the extracellular domains of LGI1 or CASPR2. Of the remaining 72 double-negative sera, 10 (14%) immunoprecipitated 125I-αDTX itself, and 27 (38%) bound to solubilised co-expressed Kv1.1/1.2/1.6 subunits and/or Kv1.2 subunits alone, at levels proportionate to VGKC complex antibody levels (r=0.57, p=0.0017). The sera with LGI1 and CASPR2 antibodies immunoprecipitated neither preparation. None of the 27 Kv1-precipitating samples bound live hippocampal neurons or Kv1 extracellular domains, but 16 (59%) bound to permeabilised Kv1-expressing human embryonic kidney 293T cells. These intracellular Kv1 antibodies mainly associated with non-immune disease aetiologies, poor longitudinal clinical-serological correlations and a limited immunotherapy response. CONCLUSIONS: Double-negative VGKC complex antibodies are often directed against cytosolic epitopes of Kv1 subunits and occasionally against non-mammalian αDTX. These antibodies should no longer be classified as neuronal-surface antibodies. They consequently lack pathogenic potential and do not in themselves support the use of immunotherapies.