Objectives: The goal of this study was to investigate the frequency of GM1 antibodies and to assess whether exposure to Campylobacter jejuni was associated with a distinct clinical variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) or disease outcome in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.
Material and methods: Forty-one patients with a presumed diagnosis of GBS were enrolled and prospectively studied between June 1994 and November 1999.
Results: Anti-GM1 was present in 51.2% (n = 21) of patients. The presence of anti-GM1 was significantly associated with acute axonal motor neuropathy when compared to acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (P = 0.01). Patients with anti-GM1 antibodies presented distal muscle involvement and fewer sensory deficits. Age, time to nadir and ventilatory assistance were not associated with anti-GM1 antibodies. Eight out of 21 patients (32%) presented with anti-C. jejuni antibodies. Clinical features were similar for patients with GBS with positive and negative C. jejuni antibodies. Anti-GM1 antibodies were associated with C. jejuni infection (P = 0.0005). Presence of anti-GM1 and C. jejuni antibodies did not indicate a worse prognosis.
Conclusion: Patients with GBS and anti-GM1 antibodies had more distal muscle weakness, fewer sensory deficits, more axonal degeneration and C. jejuni infection, but these findings were not associated with a worse prognosis.