Does Campylobacter jejuni infection elicit "demyelinating" Guillain-Barre syndrome?

S Kuwabara, K Ogawara, S Misawa, M Koga, M Mori, A Hiraga, T Kanesaka, T Hattori, N Yuki
Neurology 2004 August 10, 63 (3): 529-33

BACKGROUND: Campylobacter jejuni enteritis is the most common antecedent infection in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). C. jejuni-related GBS is usually acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), but previous reports described many cases of the demyelinating subtype of GBS (acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy [AIDP]) after C. jejuni infection.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether C. jejuni infection elicits AIDP.

METHODS: In 159 consecutive patients with GBS, antibodies against C. jejuni were measured using ELISA. Antecedent C. jejuni infection was determined by the strict criteria of positive C. jejuni serology and a history of a diarrheal illness within the previous 3 weeks. Electrodiagnostic studies were performed weekly for the first 4 weeks, and sequential findings were analyzed.

RESULTS: There was evidence of recent C. jejuni infection in 22 (14%) patients. By electrodiagnostic criteria, these patients were classified with AMAN (n = 16; 73%) or AIDP (n = 5; 23%) or as unclassified (n = 1) in the first studies. The five C. jejuni-positive patients with the AIDP pattern showed prolonged motor distal latencies in two or more nerves and had their rapid normalization within 2 weeks, eventually all showing the AMAN pattern. In contrast, patients with cytomegalovirus- or Epstein-Barr virus-related AIDP (n = 13) showed progressive increases in distal latencies in the 8 weeks after onset.

CONCLUSION: Patients with C. jejuni-related Guillain-Barré syndrome can show transient slowing of nerve conduction, mimicking demyelination, but C. jejuni infection does not appear to elicit acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.


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