Increased titers of antibodies against streptococcal M12 and M19 proteins in patients with Tourette's syndrome

Psychiatry Res. 2001 Mar 25;101(2):187-93. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(01)00215-3.


It has been suggested that a post-streptococcal autoimmune process may be involved in the pathogenesis of a subgroup of children with tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms (PANDAS). Elevated antibody titers against streptococcal antigens have also been described in adult patients suffering from Tourette's syndrome (TS). In order to characterise further streptococcal antigens, we focussed on M proteins. M proteins are a major virulence factor of group A streptococci and known to evoke an immunologic cross-reaction with diverse epitopes of human tissue including brain tissue. Therefore, antibodies against M proteins may play a role in the pathophysiology of at least a subgroup of TS patients. Antibodies against M proteins were studied in 25 adult patients suffering from TS and 25 healthy controls after careful medical examination. The antibody titers against the peptides M1, M4, M6, M12 and M19 were estimated by ELISA. Our results show increased titers of antibodies against the streptococcal M12 and M19 proteins in TS patients as compared with controls, while antibody titers against M1, M4 and M6 did not differ between the TS and control groups. Elevated serum titers of antibodies against M12 and M19 proteins support the view that a streptococcus-induced autoimmune process may be involved in TS. The finding of a possible autoimmune origin of TS has implications for both pathophysiology and future therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Bacterial / blood*
  • Autoimmunity
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins*
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology*
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / immunology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / immunology*
  • Tourette Syndrome / immunology
  • Tourette Syndrome / microbiology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • streptococcal M protein