Antiglycolipid antibodies in Guillain-Barré and Fisher syndromes: discovery, current status and future perspective.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and Fisher syndrome (FS) are acute autoimmune neuropathies, often preceded by an infection. Antiglycolipid antibody titres are frequently elevated in sera from the acute-phase patients. Particularly, IgG anti-GQ1b antibodies are positive in as high as 90% of FS cases and thus useful for diagnosis. The development of animal models of antiglycolipid antibody-mediated neuropathies proved that some of these antibodies are directly involved in the pathogenetic mechanisms by binding to the regions where the respective target glycolipid is specifically localised. Discovery of the presence of the antibodies that specifically recognise a new conformational epitope formed by two different gangliosides (ganglioside complex) in the acute-phase sera of some patients with GBS suggested the carbohydrate-carbohydrate interaction between glycolipids. This finding indicated the need for further research in basic glycobiological science. Antiglycolipid antibodies, in particular antigangliosides antibodies, are mostly detected in acute motor axonal neuropathy type of GBS and in FS, and less frequently in the acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) type of GBS or in central nervous system (CNS) diseases. In the future, the search for the putative antibodies in AIDP and those that might be present in CNS diseases should continue. In addition, more efficient standardisation of antiglycolipid antibody detection methods and use as biomarkers in daily clinical practice in neurology is needed.

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