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Ganglioside Mimicry as a Cause of Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), characterized by acute progressive limb weakness and areflexia, is the prototype of postinfectious autoimmune diseases. Campylobacter jejuni is the most frequently identified agent of infection in GBS patients, often preceding acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), a variant of GBS. Anti-GM1, anti-GM1b, anti- GD1a, and anti-GalNAc-GD1a IgG antibodies are associated with AMAN. Carbohydrate mimicry [Galβ1-3GalNAcβ1- 4(NeuAcα 2-3)Galβ1-] was seen between the lipo-oligosaccharide of C. jejuni isolated from an AMAN patient and human GM1 ganglioside. Sensitization with the lipo-oligosaccharide of C. jejuni induces AMAN in rabbits as does sensitization with GM1 ganglioside. Paralyzed rabbits have pathological changes in their peripheral nerves identical to changes seen in human GBS. C. jejuni infection may induce anti-ganglioside antibodies by molecular mimicry, eliciting AMAN. This is the first verification of the causative mechanism of molecular mimicry in an autoimmue disease. To express ganglioside mimics, C. jejuni requires specific gene combinations that function in sialic acid biosynthesis or transfer. The knockout mutants of these landmark genes of GBS show reduced reactivity with GBS patients' sera, and fail to induce an antiganglioside antibody response in mice. These genes are crucial for the induction of neuropathogenic cross-reactive antibodies. An approach for evaluating intravenous immune globulin, a treatment for GBS, based on our animal model of AMAN is also discussed in this review, and recent advances made in this field are described.

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Keywords: Autoimmune disease; Campylobacter jejuni; Guillain-Barre syndrome; ganglioside; molecular mimicry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Neurology and Research Institute for Neuroimmunological Diseases, Dokkyo Medical University School of Medicine, Kitakobayashi 880, Mibu, Shimotsuga, Tochigi 321-0293, Japan.

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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