Purpose of review: Over the past 25 years, many autoantibodies directed against peripheral nerve glycan and protein antigens have been described. Principally through this area of research, significant advances have been achieved in the understanding of the pathophysiology of inflammatory neuropathies. More evidence constantly continues to emerge supporting the role of antibodies in pathogenesis. This review reports the recent studies highlighting the complex association between autoantibodies directed against various peripheral nerve antigens and immune polyneuropathies.
Recent findings: The discovery of serum antibodies directed against ganglioside and glycolipid complexes has generated huge interest in this area of research. The expectation that nodal proteins are important targets continues to be pursued in line with the improvements in detection methodology. Basic studies continue to support a direct role for autoantibodies in neuropathy pathogenesis.
Summary: Discovery of new target epitopes has not only raised hopes for further improvement in our understanding of pathophysiology and availability of new diagnostic markers, but also for future targeted therapies. Further studies are required to elucidate the precise pathological and clinical significance of these new antibodies.