Background & objectives: An association between the onset or recrudescence of some neuropsychiatric disorders in children such as tic disorders and group A streptococcal (GAS) infections has been suggested. No information is available on the characterization of GAS strains associated with such disorders. The present study was undertaken to characterize the GAS strains isolated from children with tic disorders and to determine and correlate the antistreptolysin O (ASO) titre with the presence of GAS.
Methods: During 1996-2001, 368 children with tic disorders were investigated for possible exposition to streptococcal antigens. All children, at the time of the first visit and during the follow up visits were apparently healthy and showed no clinical evidence of streptococcal infections or post streptococcal sequelae. Blood and throat swab samples were collected and serological and bacteriological tests done. The isolates obtained were investigated for T pattern, M protein and emm type, as well as for the production of protease.
Results: Of the 800 throat swabs studied 100, corresponding to 67 patients, were positive for GAS; 49 children were found positive for GAS only once during the study, 18 had more than one sample positive for different serotypes, 8 were positive twice or more for the same type. ASO titres of these children were, in general, elevated. Five types, namely type M12, 3, 13, 11, 1, accounted for 39 per cent of the isolates, M12 being the most common, but a large number of different types were also found. A large number of isolates (62%) showed an elevated prodution of protease in the casein plate assay.
Interpretation & conclusion: Despite the high level of ASO titres found, the results were not in favour of a particular virulence or invasivity of the isolates. Only a few colonies per sample were found indicating that factors different from the microbial virulence play a role in this type of disease.