Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy with reversible cognitive impairment

Christopher H. Gibbons, Justin Centi, Steven Vernino, Roy Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG) is a rare disorder of antibody-mediated impaired transmission across the autonomic ganglia resulting in severe autonomic failure. Some patients with AAG report cognitive impairment of unclear etiology despite treatment of autonomic symptoms. Objective: To investigate the relationship between orthostatic hypotension, antibody titers, and cognitive impairment in patients with AAG. Design : Prospective cohort. Setting: Academic medical center. Participants: Three patients with AAG underwent neuropsychological testing before and after cycles of plasma exchange in both the seated and standing positions. Main Outcome Measures: Patients' responses to neuropsychological tests were measured by percentage change from baseline in the seated and standing positions before and after plasma exchange to determine the effects of orthostatic hypotension and antibody titers on cognition. Results : Orthostatic hypotension and elevated antibody titer were associated independently with neuropsychological impairment (P < .05), particularly in domains of executive function, sustained attention, and working memory. Cognitive dysfunction improved, even in the seated normotensive position, after plasmapheresis and consequent reduction in antibody levels. Conclusion: Reversible cognitive impairment is independently associated with both orthostatic hypotension and elevated nicotinic acetylcholine receptor autoantibodies, thereby expanding the clinical spectrum of autonomic ganglionopathy and, in so doing, providing an additional treatable cause of cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-466
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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