Campylobacter jejuni infections and anti-GM1 antibodies in Guillain-Barré syndrome

B C Jacobs, P A van Doorn, P I Schmitz, A P Tio-Gillen, P Herbrink, L H Visser, H Hooijkass, F G van der Meché
Annals of Neurology 1996, 40 (2): 181-7
The group of patients with Guillain-Barr'e syndrome (GBS) is very heterogenous with regard to antecedent infections, immunological parameters, clinical manifestations, and response to treatment. In this study, the presumed pathogenic factors anti-GM1 antibodies and Campylobacter jejuni infections were related to the clinical characteristics. Serum from 154 patients with GBS, 63 patients with other neurological diseases (OND), and 50 normal controls (NC) were tested for the presence of antibodies against GM1 and C. jejuni. Anti-GM1 antibodies were detected in 31 (20%) GBS patients, 5 (8%) OND patients, and in none of the NC. Evidence for a recent C. jejuni infection was found in 49 (32%) GBS patients and less often in OND patients (11%) or NC (8%). In GBS patients, the presence of anti-GM1 antibodies was significantly associated with C. jejuni infections. The subgroup of GBS patients with anti-GM1 antibodies suffered more often from a rapidly progressive and more severe neuropathy with predominantly distal distribution of weakness, without deficits of cranial nerves or sensory disturbances. The subgroup with C. jejuni infection also more often had a severe pure motor variant of GBS. Recovery of the patients with anti-GM1 antibodies and C. jejuni infections was not as good after plasma exchange compared with intravenous immunoglobulins.

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