Triggers of Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Campylobacter jejuni Predominates

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 17;23(22):14222. doi: 10.3390/ijms232214222.


Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare immune-mediated acute polyradiculo-neuropathy that typically develops after a previous gastrointestinal or respiratory infection. This narrative overview aims to summarise and discuss current knowledge and previous evidence regarding triggers and pathophysiology of GBS. A systematic search of the literature was carried out using suitable search terms. The most common subtypes of GBS are acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) and acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN). The most common triggers of GBS, in three quarters of cases, are previous infections. The most common infectious agents that cause GBS include Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and cytomegalovirus. C. jejuni is responsible for about a third of GBS cases. GBS due to C. jejuni is usually more severe than that due to other causes. Clinical presentation of GBS is highly dependent on the structure of pathogenic lipo-oligosaccharides (LOS) that trigger the innate immune system via Toll-like-receptor (TLR)-4 signalling. AIDP is due to demyelination, whereas in AMAN, structures of the axolemma are affected in the nodal or inter-nodal space. In conclusion, GBS is a neuro-immunological disorder caused by autoantibodies against components of the myelin sheath or axolemma. Molecular mimicry between surface structures of pathogens and components of myelin or the axon is one scenario that may explain the pathophysiology of GBS.

Keywords: Guillain–Barré syndrome; campylobacter jejuni; demyelination; nerve roots; polyradiculitis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amantadine
  • Autoantibodies
  • Axons / pathology
  • Campylobacter jejuni*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / etiology
  • Humans


  • Amantadine
  • Autoantibodies

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.