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Mult Scler. 1999 Dec;5(6):379-88.

Multiple sclerosis is associated with enhanced B cell responses to the ganglioside GD1a.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche e Psichiatriche, Servizio di Neurofisiopatologia, Università di Firenze, viale Morgagni 85, 1-50134 Firenze, Italy.


The occurrence and role of autoantibodies to gangliosides and other lipid-containing components of the central nervous system in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are unsettled. Using sensitive ELISAs, we measured IgG and IgM antibody titers and absorbances to the three major gangliosides GD1a, GD1b and GM1, and to sulfatides, cardiolipin and myelin proteins in paired serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with untreated MS, optic neuritis (ON), acute aseptic meningo-encephalitis (AM) and other neurological diseases (OND). Twenty-three per cent of 30 MS (P<0.04) and 18% of 32 ON patients (P<0.05) presented elevated IgG antibody titers to GD1a in serum compared to 9% of patients with OND. Six (40%) of the patients with malignant MS had elevated serum IgG antibody titers to GD1a compared to one (6%) of the patients with benign MS (P<0.04). In CSF, elevated IgG antibody titers to GD1a were measured in 13% of MS and 20% of ON patients compared to 4% of patients with OND (P<0. 03 and P<0.02, respectively). The augmented IgG response to GD1a in serum also separated MS from Guillain-Barré syndrome. Compared to OND increased IgM absorbances to sulfatides and cardiolipin were observed in CSF of patients with MS, but also in AM. Elevated IgG antibody titers to myelin proteins were found more often in MS patients' serum and MS, ON and AM patients' CSF compared to OND. The data implicate that among the multitude of enhanced B-cell responses occurring in MS and ON, that directed to GD1a is common and more discriminative, and should be evaluated in future MS treatment studies.

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