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Neurol Sci. 2002 Oct;23(4):145-51.

Glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies and neurological disorders.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Psychiatry Sciences, Second Clinic, University of Padua, Via Vendramini 7, I-35121 Padua, Italy.


Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) is the enzyme that catalyses the production of GABA, a major neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Antibodies to GAD (GAD-Ab) were first recognised in a patient affected by stiff-person syndrome; subsequently they were reported in a large number of cases with type 1 diabetes. Recently GAD-Ab have been described in a number of patients affected by chronic cerebellar ataxia, drug-resistant epilepsy and myoclonus. These cases usually harbour other autoantibodies or are affected by organ-specific autoimmune diseases. The role of GAD-Ab is still unclear; the lack of experimental models makes it difficult to investigate their potential pathogenetic role. However two mechanisms have been suggested: the reduction by GAD-Ab of GABA synthesis in nerve terminals or the interference with exocytosis of GABA.

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