AIMS--To compare the titre of anti-ganglioside antibodies (AGA) to GM1 ganglioside in patients with central and peripheral neurological disease and pure motor and sensorimotor neuropathy, in patients with classic autoimmune diseases, and controls. METHODS--AGA to GM1 were measured using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique, highly purified bovine GM1 ganglioside, and sequential dilution of control and test sera. Antibody titre was calculated using the optical density readings of three consecutive serum dilutions multiplied by the dilution factor. RESULTS--A considerable overlap was evident in the titre of AGA to GM1 in control and test sera. High antibody titres were most frequent in patients with multifocal motor neuropathy with conduction block (MMNCB). Low AGA titre were observed in several patient groups. Compared with the controls, the median titre of AGA to GM1 was significantly higher in patients with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, primary Sjögren's syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus. In contrast, the median titre in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, motor neurone disease, sensorimotor neuropathy and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy was no different from that in normal control subjects. CONCLUSIONS--Estimation of AGA to GM1 may be helpful in the diagnosis of MMNCB in patients with a pure motor neuropathy but in few other conditions. Low titre AGA to GM1 are evident in several autoimmune conditions. The pathogenetic importance of AGA to GM1 in patients with neuropathy is not clear.
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