Autoantibody Diagnostics in Neuroimmunology: Experience From the 2018 Italian Neuroimmunology Association External Quality Assessment Program.
ABSTRACT: Background: Neuroimmunology has impressively expanded in the past decade. Novel assays, especially cell-based assays (CBAs) can detect conformational antibodies (Abs) recognizing antigens in their native conformation. Generally, the availability of in-house and of commercial tests has improved the diagnostics, but introduced demanding laboratory tasks. Hence, standardization and quality controls represent a key step to promote accuracy. We report on the results of the 2018 external quality assessment program (EQAP) organized by the Italian Neuroimmunology Association. Methods: EQAP regarded 10 schemes, including oligoclonal bands (OCBs), intracellular-neuronal (ICN)-Abs, neuronal-surface (NS)-Abs, aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-Abs, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-Abs, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG)-Abs, ganglioside-Abs, acetylcholine-receptor (AChR)-Abs, and muscle-specific-kinase (MuSK)-Abs, and 34 laboratories. Assays were classified as tissue-based assays (TBAs), solid-phase assays (SPAs), liquid-phase assays (LPAs), and CBAs. Thirty-three samples were provided. Results: Three-quarter of the tests were commercial. Median accuracy for the laboratories was 75% (range 50-100). In 8/10 schemes, at least one sample provided discrepant results. Inter-laboratory "substantial agreement" was found in 6/10 schemes (AChR, MuSK, MAG, AQP4, MOG, and NS-Abs), whereas the worst agreements regarded OCBs and ganglioside-Abs. Both commercial and in-house assays performed better in experienced laboratories. Conclusions: Assays could be divided in (a) robust commercial tests with substantial inter-laboratory agreement (MAG-Abs; AChR- and MuSK-Abs); commercial/"in-house" tests with (b) partial inter-laboratory agreement (AQP4-Abs, MOG-Abs, NS-Abs, ICN-Abs), and (c) with large inter-laboratory disagreement (OCBs, ganglioside-Abs). This real-life snapshot of the neuroimmunology test performances highlights shortcomings attributable to technician-dependent performances, assay structural limitations, and errors in test interpretations.
Project description:To optimize sensitivity and disease specificity of a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) antibody assay.Consecutive sera (n = 1,109) sent for aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibody testing were screened for MOG antibodies (Abs) by cell-based assays using either full-length human MOG (FL-MOG) or the short-length form (SL-MOG). The Abs were initially detected by Alexa Fluor goat anti-human IgG (H + L) and subsequently by Alexa Fluor mouse antibodies to human IgG1.When tested at 1:20 dilution, 40/1,109 sera were positive for AQP4-Abs, 21 for SL-MOG, and 180 for FL-MOG. Only one of the 40 AQP4-Ab-positive sera was positive for SL-MOG-Abs, but 10 (25%) were positive for FL-MOG-Abs (p = 0.0069). Of equal concern, 48% (42/88) of sera from controls (patients with epilepsy) were positive by FL-MOG assay. However, using an IgG1-specific secondary antibody, only 65/1,109 (5.8%) sera were positive on FL-MOG, and AQP4-Ab- positive and control sera were negative. IgM reactivity accounted for the remaining anti-human IgG (H + L) positivity toward FL-MOG. The clinical diagnoses were obtained in 33 FL-MOG-positive patients, blinded to the antibody data. IgG1-Abs to FL-MOG were associated with optic neuritis (n = 11), AQP4-seronegative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (n = 4), and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (n = 1). All 7 patients with probable multiple sclerosis (MS) were MOG-IgG1 negative.The limited disease specificity of FL-MOG-Abs identified using Alexa Fluor goat anti-human IgG (H + L) is due in part to detection of IgM-Abs. Use of the FL-MOG and restricting to IgG1-Abs substantially improves specificity for non-MS demyelinating diseases.This study provides Class II evidence that the presence of serum IgG1- MOG-Abs in AQP4-Ab-negative patients distinguishes non-MS CNS demyelinating disorders from MS (sensitivity 24%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9%-45%; specificity 100%, 95% CI 88%-100%).
Project description:To describe 16 patients with a coincidence of 2 rare diseases: aquaporin-4 antibody (AQP4-Ab)-mediated neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (AQP4-NMOSD) and acetylcholine receptor antibody (AChR-Ab)-mediated myasthenia gravis (AChR-MG).The clinical details and antibody results of 16 patients with AChR-MG and AQP4-NMOSD were analyzed retrospectively.All had early-onset AChR-MG, the majority with mild generalized disease, and a high proportion achieved remission. Fifteen were female; 11 were Caucasian. In 14/16, the MG preceded NMOSD (median interval: 16 years) and 11 of these had had a thymectomy although 1 only after NMOSD onset. In 4/5 patients tested, AQP4-Abs were detectable between 4 and 16 years prior to disease onset, including 2 patients with detectable AQP4-Abs prior to thymectomy. AChR-Abs decreased and the AQP4-Ab levels increased over time in concordance with the relevant disease. AChR-Abs were detectable at NMOSD onset in the one sample available from 1 of the 2 patients with NMOSD before MG.Although both conditions are rare, the association of MG and NMOSD occurs much more frequently than by chance and the MG appears to follow a benign course. AChR-Abs or AQP4-Abs may be present years before onset of the relevant disease and the antibody titers against AQP4 and AChR tend to change in opposite directions. Although most cases had MG prior to NMOSD onset, and had undergone thymectomy, NMOSD can occur first and in patients who have not had their thymus removed.
Project description:To evaluate the clinical relevance of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody (MOG-Ab) in a cohort of adults with inflammatory demyelinating disease (IDD) of the CNS.Live cell-based assays for MOG-Ab (IgG1 subset) and antibody to aquaporin-4 (AQP4-Ab) were performed in a cohort of 270 adult patients with IDD and 72 controls. Patients were first grouped by positive antibody result as MOG-Ab or AQP4-Ab, and the remainder were grouped by published diagnostic criteria.Seventeen patients with IDD (6.3%) had MOG-Abs and 49 patients (18.1%) had AQP4-Abs; none had both antibodies. The MOG-Ab patients predominantly manifested with isolated symptoms of optic neuritis (83%). One-third of these patients experienced relapses, which involved only the optic nerve, and all relapsed within 1 year of disease onset. At onset, MRI in the MOG-Ab group uniquely demonstrated perineural enhancement, extending to the soft tissues around the optic nerves (33%). Although about 30% of MOG-Ab patients had brain MRI lesions, they had fewer periventricular lesions than the 26 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS); none of these lesions were ovoid or perpendicular to the ventricle. Moreover, MOG-Ab patients did not meet the diagnostic criteria for definite neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and had less spinal cord involvement than the AQP4-Ab group. Four patients (23.5%) had poor visual outcomes (<0.2) or paraplegia.MOG-Abs may be a disease-specific biomarker in adult patients with IDD who have a disease distinct from NMO or MS. The radiologic as well as clinical manifestations of MOG-Ab patients can be useful in their differential diagnosis.
Project description:Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), a member of the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily, is a myelin protein solely expressed at the outermost surface of myelin sheaths and oligodendrocyte membranes. This makes MOG a potential target of cellular and humoral immune responses in inflammatory demyelinating diseases. Due to its late postnatal developmental expression, MOG is an important marker for oligodendrocyte maturation. Discovered about 30?years ago, it is one of the best-studied autoantigens for experimental autoimmune models for multiple sclerosis (MS). Human studies, however, have yielded controversial results on the role of MOG, especially MOG antibodies (Abs), as a biomarker in MS. But with improved detection methods using different expression systems to detect Abs in patients' samples, this is meanwhile no longer the case. Using cell-based assays with recombinant full-length, conformationally intact MOG, several recent studies have revealed that MOG Abs can be found in a subset of predominantly pediatric patients with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), aquaporin-4 (AQP4) seronegative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD), monophasic or recurrent isolated optic neuritis (ON), or transverse myelitis, in atypical MS and in N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor-encephalitis with overlapping demyelinating syndromes. Whereas MOG Abs are only transiently observed in monophasic diseases such as ADEM and their decline is associated with a favorable outcome, they are persistent in multiphasic ADEM, NMOSD, recurrent ON, or myelitis. Due to distinct clinical features within these diseases it is controversially disputed to classify MOG Ab-positive cases as a new disease entity. Neuropathologically, the presence of MOG Abs is characterized by MS-typical demyelination and oligodendrocyte pathology associated with Abs and complement. However, it remains unclear whether MOG Abs are a mere inflammatory bystander effect or truly pathogenetic. This article provides deeper insight into recent developments, the clinical relevance of MOG Abs and their role in the immunpathogenesis of inflammatory demyelinating disorders.
Project description:Serological levels of free immunoglobulin light chains (FLCs), produced in excess of heavy chains during synthesis of immunoglobulins by plasma cells, can be considered a direct marker of B cell activity in different systemic inflammatory-autoimmune conditions and may represent a useful predictor of rituximab (RTX) therapeutic efficacy, as reported for rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease of the neuromuscular junction with antibodies (abs) targeting the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) or the muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK), inducing muscle weakness and excessive fatigability. As MG course may be remarkably variable, we evaluated the possible use of FLCs as biomarkers of disease activity.We assessed FLC levels in 34 sera from 17 AChR-MG and from 13 MuSK-MG patients, in comparison with 20 sera from patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases and 18 from healthy blood donors, along with titers of specific auto-abs and IgG subclass distribution.We found a statistically significant increase in free ? chains in both AChR- and MuSK-MG patients, while free ? chain levels were increased only in AChR-MG. We also observed a significant reduction of both free ? and ? chains in 1/4 MuSK-MG patients along with specific abs titer, two months after RTX treatment.From our data, FLCs appear to be a sensitive marker of B cell activation in MG. Further investigations are necessary to exploit their potential as reliable biomarkers of disease activity.
Project description:A functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the PTPN22 gene encoding a protein tyrosine phosphatase has been associated with autoimmune disorders including myasthenia gravis (MG). As the PTPN22 R620W polymorphism has a wide variation of allele frequencies among different populations, this polymorphism was investigated in MG in Turkey. An emphasis is put on MG subgroups according to autoantibody (Abs) production and presence of thymoma. DNA samples from 416 patients with clinically diagnosed generalized MG (231 with Abs to acetylcholine receptor, AChR-MG), 53 with Abs to muscle-specific kinase (MuSK-MG), 55 patients with no detectable Abs (SN-MG), 77 patients with thymoma (TAMG) and 293 healthy controls (HC) were genotyped for the SNP (PTPN22 R620W, C1858T, rs2476601). The PTPN22 T allele was increased in AChR-MG patients (odds ratio [OR]: 2.5, 95%CI: 1.2-5.1). The association was stronger in late disease-onset AChR (LOMG, OR: 3.1, 95%CI: 1.2-8.2). MuSK-MG, SN-MG and TAMG groups did not carry the variant allele more frequently than the HC. In contrast to findings in other autoimmune diseases, the distribution of the PTPN22 polymorphism in this population provides a susceptibility marker for AChR-MG. The strongest association is detected in patients with LOMG.
Project description:Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) are autoantibody mediated chronic inflammatory diseases. Serum antibodies (Abs) against the aquaporin-4 water channel lead to recurrent attacks of optic neuritis, myelitis and/or brainstem syndromes. In some patients with symptoms of NMOSD, no AQP4-Abs but Abs against myelin-oligodendrocyte-glycoprotein (MOG) are detectable. These clinical syndromes are now frequently referred to as "MOG-encephalomyelitis" (MOG-EM). Here we give an overview on current recommendations concerning diagnosis of NMOSD and MOG-EM. These include antibody and further laboratory testing, MR imaging and optical coherence tomography. We discuss therapeutic options of acute attacks as well as longterm immunosuppressive treatment, including azathioprine, rituximab, and immunoglobulins.
Project description:Background: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) are severe inflammatory demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system mainly characterized by recurrent episodes of uni- or bilateral optic neuritis (ON), transverse myelitis (TM) and brainstem syndromes (BS). The majority of adult patients has serum antibodies directed against the water channel protein aquaporin 4 (AQP4-abs). In pediatric patients, AQP4-abs are less, while antibodies against myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG-abs) are more frequently detectable than in adults. Some children with NMOSD have neither AQP4- nor MOG-ab (double-seronegative). Objective: Evaluation of epidemiological data regarding incidence and prevalence of pediatric NMOSD in Germany and Austria. Methods: We recruited pediatric NMOSD patients between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2019 with five different tools: (1) ESPED (Surveillance Unit for Rare Pediatric Disorders in Germany), (2) ESNEK (Surveillance for Rare Neurological Disorders during Childhood), (3) pediatric neurology working group within the Austrian Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, (4) BIOMARKER Study and (5) NEMOS (Neuromyelitis optica Study Group). We requested data regarding clinical symptoms, antibody status, therapy regimen and response via a standardized questionnaire. Results: During the 2-year recruitment period, 46 (both incidental and prevalent) patients with a suspected diagnosis of NMOSD were brought to our attention. Twenty-two of these patients did not fulfill the inclusion criteria. Of the remaining 24 children, 22 had a median age at onset of 11 (range 3-17) years and 16/22 were female (72.7%) (no data in two patients). Sixteen of 24 patients were AQP4-ab positive (67%), 4/24 MOG-ab positive (16.7%), three children were double-seronegative and in one patient no antibody testing was done. We calculated an incidence rate of 0.022 per 100,000 person-years for Germany, while there was no incidental case in Austria during the recruitment period. The prevalence rate was 0.147 and 0.267 per 100,000 persons in Germany and Austria, respectively. Conclusion: Pediatric NMOSD, with and without associated antibodies, are very rare even considering the different limitations of our study. An unexpected finding was that a considerable proportion of patients was tested neither for AQP4- nor MOG-abs during diagnostic work-up, which should prompt to establish and disseminate appropriate guidelines.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: Muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK) antibody-positive myasthenia gravis (MG) accounts for 5%-15% of autoimmune MG. MuSK mediates the agrin-signaling pathway and also anchors the collagenic tail subunit (ColQ) of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). The exact molecular target of MuSK-immunoglobulin G (IgG), however, remains elusive. As acetylcholine receptor (AChR) deficiency is typically mild and as cholinesterase inhibitors are generally ineffective, we asked if MuSK-IgG interferes with binding of ColQ to MuSK. METHODS: We used 3 assays: in vitro overlay of the human ColQ-tailed AChE to muscle sections of Colq-/- mice; in vitro plate-binding assay to quantitate binding of MuSK to ColQ and to LRP4; and passive transfer of MuSK-IgG to mice. RESULTS: The in vitro overlay assay revealed that MuSK-IgG blocks binding of ColQ to the neuromuscular junction. The in vitro plate-binding assay showed that MuSK-IgG exerts a dose-dependent block of MuSK binding to ColQ by but not to LRP4. Passive transfer of MuSK-IgG to mice reduced the size and density of ColQ to ?10% of controls and had a lesser effect on the size and density of AChR and MuSK. CONCLUSIONS: As lack of ColQ compromises agrin-mediated AChR clustering in Colq-/- mice, a similar mechanism may lead to AChR deficiency in MuSK-MG patients. Our experiments also predict partial AChE deficiency in MuSK-MG patients, but AChE is not reduced in biopsied NMJs. In humans, binding of ColQ to MuSK may be dispensable for clustering ColQ, but is required for facilitating AChR clustering. Further studies will be required to elucidate the basis of this paradox.
Project description:Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune condition in which neurotransmission is impaired by binding of autoantibodies to acetylcholine receptors (AChR) or, in a minority of patients, to muscle specific kinase (MuSK). There are differences in the dominant IgG subclass, pathogenic mechanisms, and treatment responses between the two MG subtypes (AChR or MuSK). The antibodies are thought to be T-cell dependent, but the mechanisms underlying their production are not well understood. One aspect not previously described is whether defects in central and peripheral tolerance checkpoints, which allow autoreactive B cells to accumulate in the naive repertoire, are found in both or either form of MG.An established set of assays that measure the frequency of both polyreactive and autoreactive B cell receptors (BCR) in naive populations was applied to specimens collected from patients with either AChR or MuSK MG and healthy controls. Radioimmuno- and cell-based assays were used to measure BCR binding to AChR and MuSK.The frequency of polyreactive and autoreactive BCRs (n = 262) was higher in both AChR and MuSK MG patients than in healthy controls. None of the MG-derived BCRs bound AChR or MuSK.The results indicate that both these MG subtypes harbor defects in central and peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoints. Defective B cell tolerance may represent a fundamental contributor to autoimmunity in MG and is of particular importance when considering the durability of myasthenia gravis treatment strategies, particularly biologics that eliminate B cells.