Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10632096
Ann. Neurol. 2000 Jan;47(1):9-17
Patients with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD) offer the opportunity to explore the mechanisms underlying tumor immunity and immune-mediated neuronal degeneration. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) specific for the PCD onconeural antigen cdr2 found in the blood of patients with PCD are likely to be effectors of PCD tumor immunity. Here, we suggest a role for CTLs in the autoimmune destruction of Purkinje neurons. More than 75% of the cells obtained from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of PCD patients were CD3+ alphabeta T cells. In patients with active/progressive disease, 20% to 40% of CSF cells were activated T cells, and the CD4+ helper cells were Th1-type cells. Three PCD patients were given tacrolimus, a specific inhibitor of activated T cells, which markedly reduced these cells in the CSF. Tacrolimus also reduced the number of activated cdr2-specific CTLs in the peripheral blood, but did not lead to tumor recurrence. We suggest that activated cdr2-specific CTLs in the CSF contribute to Purkinje degeneration in PCD, and that tacrolimus therapy may benefit patients with paraneoplastic neurological disease and other T cell-mediated autoimmune neurological disorders.