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Clinical features of neuromuscular disorders in patients with N-type voltage-gated calcium channel antibodies

Andreas Totzeck, Petra Mummel, Oliver Kastrup, Tim Hagenacker
  • Andreas Totzeck
    Department of Neurology, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany
  • Petra Mummel
    Department of Neurology, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany
  • Oliver Kastrup
    Department of Neurology, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany


Neuromuscular junction disorders affect the pre- or postsynaptic nerve to muscle transmission due to autoimmune antibodies. Members of the group like myasthenia gravis and Lambert-Eaton syndrome have pathophysiologically distinct characteristics. However, in practice, distinction may be difficult. We present a series of three patients with a myasthenic syndrome, dropped-head syndrome, bulbar and respiratory muscle weakness and positive testing for anti-N-type voltage-gated calcium channel antibodies. In two cases anti-acetylcholin receptor antibodies were elevated, anti-P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium channel antibodies were negative. All patients initially responded to pyridostigmine with a non-response in the course of the disease. While one patient recovered well after treatment with intravenous immunoglobulins, 3,4-diaminopyridine, steroids and later on immunosuppression with mycophenolate mofetil, a second died after restriction of treatment due to unfavorable cancer diagnosis, the third patient declined treatment. Although new antibodies causing neuromuscular disorders were discovered, clinical distinction has not yet been made. Our patients showed features of pre- and postsynaptic myasthenic syndrome as well as severe dropped-head syndrome and bulbar and axial muscle weakness, but only anti-N-type voltage-gated calcium channel antibodies were positive. When administered, one patient benefited from 3,4-diaminopyridine. We suggest that this overlap-syndrome should be considered especially in patients with assumed seronegative myasthenia gravis and lack of improvement under standard therapy.


Neuromuscular junction disorders; Voltage gated calcium channels; Myasthenia gravis; 3,4-diaminopyridin; Dropped-head syndrome

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Submitted: 2016-04-29 09:52:33
Published: 2016-12-15 00:00:00
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Copyright (c) 2016 Andreas Totzeck, Petra Mummel, Oliver Kastrup, Tim Hagenacker

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