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J Neuroimmunol. 2004 Apr;149(1-2):160-6.

Haemophilus influenzae as a possible cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

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Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Guy's, King's, and St. Thomas' School of Medicine, Guy's Hospital, Hodgkin Building, St. Thomas' Street, London SE1 1UL, UK.


Recent reports have contained conflicting results on the relationship between antecedent Haemophilus influenzae infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). To investigate the prevalence of H. influenzae infection in GBS patients in a British population, we carried out a retrospective study with 62 consecutive GBS patients and 63 normal controls of similar age and sex. Whole bacteria of both encapsulated and nonencapsulated strains of H. influenzae were employed as antigens in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for anti-H. influenzae IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies. Elevated antibodies of two or three classes were found in one GBS patient and none in the normal controls. Six GBS patients had IgG antibodies against nonencapsulated H. influenzae compared with only one in the normal control group (p=0.06). Western blot for IgG antibody showed that all the sera with IgG antibodies recognized the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of both strains of H. influenzae. Antiganglioside GM1 antibody was not associated with anti-H. influenzae antibody in our study. Absorption with encapsulated or nonencapsulated H. influenzae, Campylobacter jejuni and Escherichia coli before testing on Western blot showed that only nonencapsulated H. influenzae absorbed the anti-LPS antibodies. In conclusion, there is a possible but rare association of GBS with nonencapsulated H. influenzae in the UK.

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