Guiding patient care

Precision analysis to diagnose and direct treatment

Among the forms of autoimmune and paraneoplastic encephalitis, Ma2 antibody-associated disease is one of the most acute. Initiated in most patients by an underlying cancer and involving rapid neurological damage, Ma2-directed illness can cause severe, potentially life-threatening symptoms without proper care.

Identification of Ma2 antibodies associated with the harmful immune response and accurate diagnosis is a critical first step to appropriately treat the disease and prevent further neurological damage. However, due to the similar clinical presentations of autoimmune encephalopathies and their associations with multiple antibody biomarkers, deciphering which antibody is driving the harmful immune response can be challenging. In addition, traditional, indirect immunofluorescence methods used to identify paraneoplastic antibodies are not as effective at detecting the Ma2 biomarker.

By the numbers


of men with Ma2 autoimmune encephalitis are identified as having testicular germ-cell tumors1


of Ma2 patients presented with excessive daytime sleepiness1

Evaluations with impact

Mayo Clinic Laboratories has optimized Ma2 antibody detection through the development of an innovative, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Developed by an integrated team of Mayo Clinic neurologists and autoimmune neurology testing experts, our Ma2 ELISA evaluation provides increased sensitivity for improved antibody detection.

Positive test results can not only facilitate aggressive immunosuppressive therapies to combat the destructive immune response but help direct a search for an unidentified cancer driving the disease process. Treatment of the cancer can further suppress the antibody response, with the combined therapies slowing the disease progress and potentially reversing symptoms.

Key testing


  • Uses enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect Ma2 antibodies.
  • Offers increased sensitivity for improved antibody detection.
  • Helps direct search for associated cancers.
  • Facilitates treatment selection.

When to consider testing

The Ma2 antibody evaluation is recommended for patients who present with:

  • Subacute onset, with rapid symptom progression over a period of days or weeks.
  • Limbic or brainstem or diencephalic encephalitis: gait abnormalities, seizures, memory problems, confusional disorders, sleep disorders.
  • Abnormal imaging revealing abnormality and/or inflammation of the spinal fluid, brainstem, and hypothalamic region of the brain.

Test detects autoimmune neurology disorders linked to cancer

Sean Pittock, M.D., explains how Mayo Clinic Laboratories' novel Ma2 test aids diagnosis of autoimmune neurology disorders that are often caused by underlying cancer. Rapid diagnosis is key to preventing significant disability and disease.

Increase confidence

Ma2 testing used in conjunction with autoimmune/paraneoplastic encephalopathy and movement disorder panel evaluations provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of autoimmune/paraneoplastic antibodies available, equipping providers with assurance that nothing was missed.

Additional testing

Learn more about how to order this evaluation at your institution.


  1. Dalmau J, Graus F, Villarejo A, et al. Clinical analysis of anti-Ma2-associated encephalitis. Brain. 2004;127(Pt 8):1831-1844. doi:10.1093/brain/awh203.