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Postvaccinal inflammatory neuropathy: peripheral nerve biopsy in 3 cases

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Abstract  Autoimmune inflammatory polyneuropathy (PN) can be triggered by vaccination. We report 3 such cases. A 36‐year‐old female nurse presented 15 days after a hepatitis B vaccination (HBV) with acute sensory disturbances in the lower limbs. She had severe ataxia but no weakness. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein level was 84 mg/100 mL, with 3 lymphocytes. A 66‐year‐old man presented 21 days after HBV with severe motor and sensory PN involving all 4 limbs. A 66‐year‐old man presented 15 days after a yellow fever vaccination with progressive motor and sensory PN involving all 4 limbs and bilateral facial paralysis. CSF protein level was 300 mg/100 mL, with 5 lymphocytes. Six weeks later, a tracheostomy was performed. In these 3 patients, the nerve deficits lasted for months. In each case, peripheral nerve biopsy showed KP1‐positive histiocytes but no T‐lymphocytes in the endoneurium. On ultrastructural examination, there was axonal degeneration in the first 2 cases; in case 2, a few myelinated fibers exhibited an intra‐axonal macrophage but the myelin sheath was preserved. There was only 1 example of macrophage‐associated demyelination in case 2, but these were numerous in case 3. It is likely that in the first 2 cases, an autoimmune reaction against some axonal or neuronal components was triggered by HBV. It induced an acute sensory ataxic PN in case 1 and an acute motor and sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN) in case 2. The third patient had a chronic inflammatory demyelinating PN, likely triggered by yellow fever vaccination.
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Keywords: Guillain‐Barré syndrome; chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; hepatitis B vaccine; macrophage; vaccine safety

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: France

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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