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Rev Neurol. 2003 Jul 1-15;37(1):92-7.

[Streptococcus pyogenes and the brain: living with the enemy].

[Article in Spanish]

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Neurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College Londres, Reino Unido.


Streptococcus pyogenes (or group A beta hemolytic streptococcus) is a pathogenic bacterium that can give rise to a range of invasive and autoimmune diseases, although it is more widely known as the cause of tonsillitis. It is particularly interesting to note that this germ only causes disease in humans. For many years it has been acknowledged that it can cause an autoimmune brain disease (Sydenham s chorea). Yet, the spectrum of post streptococcal brain disorders has recently been extended to include other movement disorders such as tics or dystonia. A number of systematic psychiatric studies have shown that certain emotional disorders generally accompany the movement disorder (particularly, obsessive compulsive disorder). The proposed pathogenetic mechanism is that of a neuronal dysfunction in which antibodies play a mediating role. The antibodies that are produced after the streptococcal infection cross react with neuronal proteins, and more especially so in individuals with a propensity. This represents a possible model of immunological mimicry and its potential importance with respect to certain idiopathic disorders such as Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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