Paraneoplastic movement disorders: phenomenology, diagnosis, and treatment

Martina Chirra, Luca Marsili, Simone Gallerini, Elizabeth G Keeling, Roberto Marconi, Carlo Colosimo
European Journal of Internal Medicine 2019, 67: 14-23
Paraneoplastic syndromes include, by definition, any symptomatic and non-metastatic condition associated with a neoplasm. Paraneoplastic movement disorders are a heterogeneous group of syndromes encompassing both hyperkinetic and hypokinetic conditions, characterized by acute/sub-acute onset, rapidly progressive evolution, and multifocal localizations with several overlapping features. These movement disorders are immune-mediated, as shown by the rapid onset and by the presence of antineuronal antibodies in biological samples of patients, fundamental for the diagnosis. Antineuronal antibodies could be targeted against intracellular or neuronal surface antigens. Paraneoplastic movement disorders associated with anti-neuronal surface antigens antibodies respond more frequently to immunotherapy. The underlying tumors may be different, according to the clinical presentation, age, and gender of patients. Our search considered articles involving human subjects indexed in PubMed. Abstracts were independently reviewed for eligibility criteria by one author and validated by at least one additional author. In this review, we sought to critically reappraise the clinical features and the pathophysiological mechanisms of paraneoplastic movement disorders, focusing on diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Our main aim is to make clinicians aware of paraneoplastic movement disorders, and to provide assistance in the early diagnosis and management of these rare but life-threatening conditions.

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