COVID-19-associated Guillain-Barre syndrome: Postinfectious alone or neuroinvasive too?

J Med Virol. 2021 Oct;93(10):6045-6049. doi: 10.1002/jmv.27159. Epub 2021 Jul 6.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been shown to be associated with a lot of neurological complications, of whom Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is an important post-infectious consequentiality. More than 220 patients with GBS have been reported thus far. We intend to share our experience with five patients of GBS where one of them had severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This is the first-ever report demonstrating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the CSF of an adult patient; a similar occurrence has recently been described in a pediatric patient. We wish to emphasize the fact that commonly GBS occurs as a result of a post-infectious process but in a few cases where the symptoms of COVID-19 and GBS occur concurrently, corresponding to the viremic phase, separate pathogenesis needs to be thought of. This para-infectious nature is exemplified by the presence of virus in the cerebrospinal fluid of one of our patients. We review the neuroinvasive potential of SARS-Cov-2 in this regard and draw parallels with Cytomegalovirus, Zika virus, and Human Immunodeficiency virus-associated occurrences of GBS.

Keywords: COVID-19; Guillain-Barre syndrome; cerebrospinal fluid; reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / cerebrospinal fluid
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / virology
  • Female
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous