Search for antibodies to neutral glycolipids in sera of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome

Amjad A. Ilyas, Francis A. Mithen, Zi Wei Chen, Stuart D. Cook

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Sera from 54 patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), 34 patients with other neurological diseases (OND) and 32 healthy controls were tested for antibodies to total lipid fractions and higher neutral glycolipid fractions isolated from human and dog nerves, purified Forssman glycolipid and a panel of purified neutral glycolipids by both an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a thin-layer chromatogram (TLC)-overlay technique. IgM and IgG antibodies to total lipid fractions, as well as to galactocerebroside, ceramide dihexoside, ceramide trihexoside, and globoside were not significantly elevated in the sera of GBS patients as compared to controls. High levels of anti-asialo-GM1 IgG antibodies, however, were detected in 6 of 54 (11%) GBS patients and 1 of 30 (3%) OND patients. Intense reactivity with purified Forssman glycolipid and a number of glycolipid antigens in higher neutral glycolipid enriched fractions of human cauda equina and dog sciatic nerves was noted by TLC-immunostaining in many GBS and control sera. Although the levels of anti-Forssman IgM were significantly decreased in GBS sera compared with normal sera (P < 0.05) and OND sera (P < 0.02), the levels of anti-Forssman IgG antibodies were not significantly different. With the possible exception of IgG antibodies to asialo-GM1, our results suggest that serum antibodies against Forssman glycolipid and neutral glycolipids are not significantly elevated in GBS patients and, thus, are unlikely to play an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-75
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
  • Forssman glycolipid
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Lipid fractions
  • Neutral glycolipids
  • Peripheral nerve diseases
  • Thin-layer chromatogram-overlay technique


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