M. pneumoniae Infection Linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome

HealthDay News — Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), according to a study published online in the Annals of Neurology.

Patrick M. Meyer Sauteur, MD, from the University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues examined the role of M. pneumoniae in GBS in a case-control study involving 189 adults and 24 children with GBS. Cases were compared to control cohorts for analysis of serum antibodies against M. pneumoniae (479 controls) and galactocerebroside (GalC; 198 controls).

The researchers found that 3 and 0% of adult GBS patients and healthy controls (P = 0.16) and 21 and 7% of children (P = 0.03), respectively, had anti-M. pneumoniae immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies. Four percent of adults and 25 percent of children with GBS had anti-GalC antibodies (P = 0.001). Patients who were positive for anti-GalC had more frequent preceding respiratory symptoms, cranial nerve involvement, and a better outcome. There was a correlation for anti-GalC antibodies with anti-M. pneumoniae antibodies (P < 0.001), and these cross-reacted with different strains of M. pneumoniae. Anti-GalC IgM antibodies were found in GBS patients with M. pneumoniae infection and in patients without neurological disease; anti-GalC IgG antibodies were only found in patients with GBS.

M. pneumonia infection is associated with GBS, more frequently in children than adults, and elicits anti-GalC antibodies, of which specifically anti-GalC IgG may contribute to the pathogenesis of GBS,” the authors write.


1. Meyer Sauteur PM, Huizinga R, Tio-gillen AP, et al. Mycoplasma pneumoniae triggering the Guillain-Barré syndrome: A case-control study. Ann Neurol. 2016; doi:10.1002/ana.24755.