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Curr Opin Neurol. 2004 Aug;17(4):425-32.

Antibasal ganglia antibodies and their relevance to movement disorders.

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Institute of Neurology, University College London, UK.



Recently, autoaggressive immunological responses were included among the causative agents of basal ganglia dysfunction. Autoaggressive immune-mediated illnesses secondary to group A beta-haemolytic streptococcal infections present with motor and psychiatric symptoms, due to basal ganglia involvement. These disorders have been associated with serum antineuronal antibodies, relatively specific to human basal ganglia tissue. This review summarizes the most recent studies concerning antibasal ganglia antibodies, focusing on the associated phenotypes and the hypotheses concerning their pathogenicity.


The spectrum of post-streptococcal neuropsychiatric disorders associated with antibasal ganglia antibodies seems broader than previously recognized. Other than chorea, tics and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which constituted the bulk of previously described disorders associated with antibasal ganglia antibodies, post-streptococcal neuropsychiatric disturbances include a wider range of motor and behavioural abnormalities, in keeping with the multifunctional role of the basal ganglia. An encephalitis lethargica-like illness following streptococcal infection was reported, and unusual adult-onset movement disorders associated with antibasal ganglia antibodies were documented. Moreover, investigators provided preliminary evidence for a pathogenic role of autoantibodies in Sydenham's chorea, the prototypic post-streptococcal neuropsychiatric disorder.


Antibasal ganglia antibodies are relatively specific in identifying post-streptococcal neuropsychiatric disorders, which constitute a wider spectrum of movement disorders than previously recognized. Although their sensitivity in diagnosing Sydenham's chorea seems excellent, it is not yet possible to extrapolate this sensitivity to all the recently identified post-streptococcal neuropsychiatric disorders. The antigens targeted by these autoantibodies and their pathogenic importance are currently under investigation. Preliminary evidence suggests that antibasal ganglia antibodies may be pathogenic.

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