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BACKGROUND: Antibody-mediated autoimmunity underlies a diverse range of disorders, particularly in the nervous system where domains of ion channels and receptors are potential targets. The aetiology of many adult-onset conditions of severe gut dysmotility is not known. We looked for antibodies to neuronal antigens in patients with severe (slow-transit-type) constipation (STC). METHODS: Eleven sera from adult-onset STC patients and 18 from childhood onset cases were tested by routine immunoprecipitation assays for antibodies against neuronal antigens including voltage-gated potassium channels (VGKCs), calcium channels (VGCCs), both muscle and neuronal acetylcholine receptor and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Results were compared with positive and negative control populations. RESULTS: Two of the 11 sera from patients with adult-onset STC showed highly positive anti-VGKC antibodies. Both had onset of symptoms de novo in adulthood without evidence of autoimmune, neoplastic or neurological disease. One of these patients, and one other, had anti-GAD antibodies. None of the childhood-onset STC had evidence of anti-neuronal antibodies. CONCLUSIONS: Anti-neuronal antibodies are found in some patients with a condition of severe acquired gut dysmotility of previously unknown aetiology. Future studies may demonstrate an autoimmune role for such antibodies.


Journal article


Scand J Gastroenterol

Publication Date





166 - 170


Adult, Autoantibodies, Autoimmune Diseases, Calcium Channels, Constipation, Female, Gastrointestinal Motility, Glutamate Decarboxylase, Humans, Middle Aged, Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated