A role for autoantibodies in some cases of acquired non-paraneoplastic gut dysmotility.
Knowles CH., Lang B., Clover L., Scott SM., Gotti C., Vincent A., Martin JE.
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.