Neurological disorders associated with immune checkpoint inhibitors: an association with autoantibodies

Morinobu Seki, Shigehisa Kitano, Shigeaki Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Among diverse neurological immune-related adverse events (irAEs), autoimmune encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), myasthenia gravis (MG), and myositis are particularly important. The clinical presentation may be different from that of patients with conditions unrelated to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Many of the autoantibodies detected in patients’ sera are committed to the pathogenesis, while the clinical significance of such autoantibodies in cases of neurological irAEs is different from the significance in cases of typical neuronal disorders. A broad range of clinical symptoms complicates the diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis. The clinical features of aseptic meningitis induced by classical drugs are different from those of aseptic meningitis induced by ICIs. Although autoantibodies against synaptic receptors or neuronal cell surface proteins are not detected, anti-Ma2 antibodies, which are onconeural antibodies against intracellular proteins, are detected in patients with autoimmune encephalitis associated with ICIs. GBS induced by ICIs sometimes shows gradual progression and a relapse of symptoms, suggesting chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Bulbar symptoms and myasthenic crisis are frequently observed in ICI-induced MG. Anti-acetylcholine receptor antibodies are found in only half of patients with MG occurring as an irAE. ICI-induced myositis is accompanied by ocular muscle symptoms, such as ptosis and diplopia, which can suggest MG. Patients receiving ICI treatment present clinical features and laboratory findings that represent a mixture of MG and myositis. Anti-striational antibodies may act as biomarkers in cases in which MG and myositis overlap. A correct understanding of neurological adverse events is required to achieve the best management of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-775
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr


  • Autoantibody
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immune-related adverse events
  • Neurological disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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