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Russian scientists propose clue to Guillain-Barre syndrome

June 02, 2016, 18:37 UTC+3 Moscow

The scientists showed that the onset of the disease might not be associated with autoimmune processes, as had been previously thought

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© Image courtesy of IBCh press-service/Alena Lobanova

MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. Russian scientists have proposed a new hypothesis on the causes of peripheral nervous system disease, called the Guillain-Barre syndrome, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBCh RAS) said on Thursday.

The scientists showed that the onset of the disease might not be associated with autoimmune processes, as had been previously thought, the institute’s press service said.

"As a result of our analysis, we concluded that autoimmune processes, and with them the adaptive immunity, may not have played a key role in the development of the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Autoimmunity can be a factor at a later stage, causing complications, but it is not the root cause of the disease", said Rustam Ziganshin, a senior researcher at IBCh RAS.

The Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare and complicated disease of the peripheral nervous system, which occurs in 0.89-1.89 per 100,000 population per year in western countries and manifests itself as a rapidly developing ascending paralysis. The syndrome was first reported over 100 years ago, but its causes is still poorly understood. Many scientists believed that disease has autoimmune nature similar to multiple sclerosis nature but Russian scientists formulated a number of new hypotheses concerning the mechanisms of the emergence and development of the Guillain-Barre syndrome.

"Today, the hypothesis that the autoimmune reaction of some disease developing in the body, occurs through a molecular mimicry mechanism, is the most common", said Ziganshin, "The immune system’s response to certain viruses and bacteria can lead to the formation of antibodies that react with self-antigens localized on the surface of the myelin sheath of the peripheral nerves. As a result of this interaction, macrophages (the first line of defense by the immune system) begin to attack the nerve sheath, weakening it, together with nerve conduction. The data that we obtained suggests that these processes may not play a decisive role in the development of the Guillain-Barre syndrome".

Russian scientists studied the most common form of the Guillain-Barre syndrome - Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (AIDP). For this purpose, they conducted a comparative analysis of the peptide-protein composition and immunological profiles of cerebrospinal fluid and the serum of patients with AIDP, multiple sclerosis and patients not suffering from a neurologic disease.

The results showed that patients with AIDP are more prone to a range of neurotropic viruses, and they are often susceptible to different infections. Simultaneously, the analysis also showed that the patients had the congenital system activated, rather than adaptive immunity. The researchers’ further plans shall be associated with the detection in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome of neurotropic viruses that could act as promoter to this disease, as well as to further clarify the role of autoimmune factors in the origin and initial development of the syndrome.

The results of the study published in in the Molecular & Cellular Proteomics journal. Work was conducted by researchers from IBCh RAS together with the researchers from the Research Center of Neurology.

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