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Test ID: MGL1 Myasthenia Gravis (MG)/Lambert-Eaton Syndrome (LES) Evaluation, Serum

Useful For

Confirming the autoimmune basis of a defect in neuromuscular transmission (eg, myasthenia gravis: MG, Lambert-Eaton syndrome: LES)


Distinguishing LES from 2 recognized autoimmune forms of MG


Raising the index of suspicion for cancer, particularly primary lung carcinoma (N-type calcium channel antibody)


Providing a quantitative autoantibody baseline for future comparisons in monitoring a patient's clinical course and response to immunomodulatory treatment

Profile Information

Test ID Reporting Name Available Separately Always Performed
MGLEI MG Lambert-Eaton Interpretation, S No Yes
CCPQ P/Q-Type Calcium Channel Ab No Yes
CCN N-Type Calcium Channel Ab No Yes
ARBI ACh Receptor (Muscle) Binding Ab Yes Yes
ARMO ACh Receptor (Muscle) Modulating Ab No Yes
STR Striational (Striated Muscle) Ab, S Yes Yes

Reflex Tests

Test ID Reporting Name Available Separately Always Performed
CRMWS CRMP-5-IgG Western Blot, S Yes No
GANG AChR Ganglionic Neuronal Ab, S No No

Testing Algorithm

If acetylcholine receptor (AChR) modulating antibodies are ≥90% and striational antibodies are ≥1:120, then AChR ganglionic neuronal antibody and CRMP-5-IgG Western blot will be performed at an additional charge.


This evaluation is recommended for patients presenting with an acquired defect of neuromuscular transmission in whom the differential diagnosis includes Lambert-Eaton syndrome (LES). It is not recommended for patients with a past history of, or risk factors for, lung cancer and/or concurrent neurological symptoms/signs not attributable to LES; for those situations, order PAVAL / Paraneoplastic Autoantibody Evaluation, Serum. Testing for a newly recognized alternative antibody of myasthenia gravis (MG) (muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase) is indicated when all tests are negative.


See Myasthenia Gravis/Lambert Eaton Syndrome Diagnostic Algorithm in Special Instructions.

Method Name

CCN, CCPQ, ARBI, ARMO, GANG: Radioimmunoassay (RIA)

STR: Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA)

Reporting Name

MG/LES Evaluation

Specimen Type


Specimen Required


Preferred: Red top

Acceptable: Serum gel

Specimen Volume: 3 mL

Additional Information: Patient should have no general anesthetic or muscle-relaxant drugs in the previous 24 hours.

Specimen Minimum Volume

2 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Serum Refrigerated (preferred) 28 days
  Frozen  28 days
  Ambient  72 hours

Clinical Information

Myasthenia gravis (MG) and Lambert-Eaton syndrome (LES) are acquired disorders of neuromuscular transmission. MG is caused by pathogenic autoantibodies binding to muscle's nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) or, in a small minority of patients, muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK); LES is caused by autoantibodies binding to motor nerve terminal's voltage-gated P/Q-type calcium channel. Synaptic transmission fails when autoantibodies cause a critical loss of junctional cation channel proteins that activate the muscle action potential.


Both MG and LES can affect children (see MGP1 / Myasthenia Gravis [MG] Evaluation, Pediatric) as well as adults, although LES is very rare in children. In adults MG is 10 times more frequent than LES, but it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the 2 disorders, clinically and electromyographically. In adults with MG, there is at least a 20% occurrence of thymoma or other neoplasm.


Neoplasms associated with LES or MG are an endogenous source of the antigens driving production of the autoantibodies that characterize each disorder. LES is frequently associated with small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC). Thus far, MuSK antibody has not been associated with any neoplasm.


Autoimmune serology is indispensable for both the initial evaluation and monitoring of patients with acquired disorders of neuromuscular transmission. The neurological diagnosis depends on the clinical context and electromyographic findings, and is confirmed more readily by a serological profile than by any single test.


Not all of the antibodies in this profile impair neuromuscular transmission (eg, N-type calcium channel antibodies, antibodies directed at cytoplasmic epitopes accessible in detergent solubilized P/Q-type calcium channels and muscle AChRs, or antibodies against sarcomeric proteins that constitute the striational antigens).


Note: Single antibody tests may be requested in the follow-up of patients with positive results previously documented in this laboratory.


See Myasthenia Gravis/Lambert Eaton Syndrome Diagnostic Algorithm in Special Instructions.

Reference Values


≤0.02 nmol/L



0-20% (reported as __% loss of AChR)



≤0.03 nmol/L



≤0.02 nmol/L





A patient's autoantibody profile is more informative than the result of any single test for supporting a diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis (MG) or Lambert-Eaton syndrome (LES), and for predicting the likelihood of lung carcinoma. Muscle acetylcholine receptor (AChR) and striational antibodies are characteristic but not diagnostic of MG. One or both are found in 13% of patients with LES, but calcium channel antibodies are not found in MG (with exception of rare non-thymomatous paraneoplastic cases).


Muscle AChR binding antibody is found in 90% of nonimmunosuppressed MG patients who have thymoma, and 80% have a striational antibody. Calcium channel antibodies have not been encountered with thymoma. The likelihood of thymoma is greatest when striational antibody is accompanied by a high muscle AChR modulating antibody value (≥90% AChR loss). Detection of CRMP-5-IgG also is consistent with thymoma in patients not at risk for lung carcinoma.


N-type calcium channel antibodies are more highly associated with primary lung cancer than P/Q-type. One or all of the autoantibodies in the MG/LES evaluation can occur with neoplasia without evidence of neurological impairment. Calcium channel antibodies may disappear soon after commencing immunosuppressant therapy. Other serological markers of lung cancer also may disappear.


One or both calcium channel antibodies (P/Q and N) can occur with paraneoplastic and idiopathic cerebellar ataxia, encephalomyeloneuropathies, and autonomic neuropathy.


Titers are generally higher in patients with severe weakness, but severity cannot be predicted by antibody titer.


AChR and striational antibodies may be undetectable for 6 to 12 months after MG symptom onset and similarly P/Q-type calcium channel antibody may be undetectable for 6 to 12 months after LES onset. Only about 5% of nonimmunosuppressed adult patients with generalized MG remain seronegative for muscle AChR and striational autoantibodies beyond 12 months.


The alternative muscle autoantigen, MuSK, accounts for approximately 1/3 of seronegative MG cases with predominantly oculobulbar symptoms.

Clinical Reference

1. Lennon VA: Serological profile of myasthenia gravis and distinction from the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. Neurology 1997;48(Suppl 5):S23-S27

2. Harper CM, Lennon VA: Lambert-Eaton syndrome. In Current Clinical Neurology: Myasthenia Gravis and Related Disorders. Edited by HJ Kaminski. Totowa, NJ, Humana Press, 2007, (in press)

3. Hoch W, McConville J, Helms S, et al: Auto-antibodies to the receptor tyrosine kinase MuSK in patients with myasthenia gravis without acetylcholine receptor antibodies. Nat Med 2001 Mar;7(3):365-368

Day(s) and Time(s) Performed

ACh receptor (muscle) binding antibody:

Monday through Friday; 11 a.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.

Saturday; 6 a.m.

Sunday; 6 a.m., 10 a.m.


ACh receptor (muscle) modulating antibodies:

Monday through Thursday; 2 p.m.

Saturday; 8 a.m.


Striational (striated muscle) antibodies:

Monday through Friday; 4 a.m., 3 p.m.

Saturday 6 a.m.


CRMP-5-IgG Western blot:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 8 a.m.


AChR ganglionic neuronal antibody:

Monday through Friday; 11 a.m., 6 p.m.

Saturday; 6 a.m.

Sunday; 6 a.m.


P/Q-type calcium channel antibody; N-type calcium channel antibody:

Monday through Friday; 6 a.m.

Analytic Time

3 days

CPT Code Information

83519 x 4


83519 (if appropriate)

84182 (if appropriate)

LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
MGL1 MG/LES Evaluation In Process


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
8338 ACh Receptor (Muscle) Binding Ab 11034-6
8879 ACh Receptor (Muscle) Modulating Ab 30192-9
81184 N-Type Calcium Channel Ab 94348-0
81185 P/Q-Type Calcium Channel Ab 94349-8
8746 Striational (Striated Muscle) Ab, S 94817-4
34273 MG Lambert-Eaton Interpretation, S 69048-7


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Neurology Specialty Testing Client Test Request (T732) with the specimen.

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