A monoclonal IgA in a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis reacts with neurofilaments and surface antigen on neuroblastoma cells
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
A 75-year-old woman had breast carcinoma, an IgA paraprotein and autopsy-proven amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Autopsy tissues showed immune-reactive IgA within surviving motor neurons and deposits of IgA and C3 within renal glomeruli. By indirect immunofluorescence, the patient's serum contained high-titer IgA that bound to axons and to the perikarya of nerve cells in central and peripheral nervous system. The IgA paraprotein reacted with the 200 kDa, high molecular weight subunit of neurofilament protein (NFH) in Western blots of purified neurofilaments. It also reacted with dephosphorylated NFH and with NFH expressed as a fusion protein in E. coli, suggesting that the autoantibody recognized a peptide epitope. The IgA crossreacted with a surface antigen of cultured human neuroblastoma cells but mouse monoclonal antibodies to NFH did not. Absorption of the patient's serum with neurofilaments eliminated IgA binding to neuroblastoma cells, indicating that the same antibodies bound to both determinants. The IgA paraprotein seems to be an autoantibody with specificity for neurofilament protein and a cell surface component of neuronal cells; the antibody may have been important in the pathogenesis of neuronal degeneration.