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Voltage-gated potassium channel (VGKC)-complex antibodies are defined by the radioimmunoprecipitation of Kv1 potassium channel subunits from brain tissue extracts and were initially discovered in patients with peripheral nerve hyperexcitability (PNH). Subsequently, they were found in patients with PNH plus psychosis, insomnia, and dysautonomia, collectively termed Morvan's syndrome (MoS), and in a limbic encephalopathy (LE) with prominent amnesia and frequent seizures. Most recently, they have been described in patients with pure epilepsies, especially in patients with the novel and distinctive semiology termed faciobrachial dystonic seizures (FBDS). In each of these conditions, there is a close correlation between clinical measures and antibody levels. The VGKC-complex is a group of proteins that are strongly associated in situ and after extraction in mild detergent. Two major targets of the autoantibodies are leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 (LGI1) and contactin-associated protein 2 (CASPR2). The patients with PNH or MoS are most likely to have CASPR2 antibodies, whereas LGI1 antibodies are found characteristically in patients with FBDS and LE. Crucially, each of these conditions has a good response to immunotherapies, often corticosteroids and plasma exchange, although optimal regimes require further study. VGKC-complex antibodies have also been described in neuropathic pain syndromes, chronic epilepsies, a polyradiculopathy in porcine abattoir workers, and some children with status epilepticus. Increasingly, however, the antigenic targets in these patients are not defined and in some cases the antibodies may be secondary rather than the primary cause. Future serologic studies should define all the antigenic components of the VGKC-complex, and further inform mechanisms of antibody pathogenicity and related inflammation.

Original publication




Journal article


Handb Clin Neurol

Publication Date





185 - 197


CASPR2, LGI1, Morvan’s, VGKC–complex, encephalitis, faciobrachial, neuromyotonia, peripheral nerve hyperexcitability, Animals, Autoantibodies, Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System, Autoimmunity, Humans, Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated