Concomitant Guillain-Barré Syndrome and COVID-19: A Meta-Analysis of Cases

Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Dec 13;58(12):1835. doi: 10.3390/medicina58121835.


Background and Objectives: Recent findings demonstrate that the transmigration of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to the nervous system implicates severe neurotropic pathologies, including the onset of the rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which is characterized by immune-mediated polyneuropathy. This study aimed to identify the predisposing factors and the clinical features of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-induced GBS. Materials and Methods: We have performed an analysis of 147 cases. A systematic review of the published research work was performed per the PRISMA statement to obtain individual participant data (IPD) for the meta-analysis. The search was conducted through PubMed, using the combined search terms "Guillain-Barré syndrome" and "COVID-19". All case reports and series in the English language with accessed full text were included in the search. Results: A systematic database search led to the retrieval of 112 peer-reviewed articles published between 1 April 2020, and 8 February 2022. The articles comprised 16 case series and 96 case reports containing IPD for 147 patients. Our findings showed that 77.6% of all cases were 40 years or older. Males comprised most of the cases (65.3%; n = 96). The intensive care unit (ICU) admission was 44.9%, and the need for mechanical ventilation (MV) was 38.1%. The patients presented with hyporeflexia or areflexia (84.4%; n = 124), lower limb strength and sensation impairment (93.2%; n = 138), upper limb strength and sensation impairment (85.7; n = 126), and somatic sensation impairment (72.8%; n = 107). The patients presented with increased cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) protein levels (92%; n = 92) and the presence of CSF albuminocytological dissociation (83.5%; n = 71). The most common variant of GBS observed was acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP). We found that predisposing factors concomitant with COVID-19 and GBS were male gender and older age. Among the cases, patient mortality was 10.9%. Conclusions: A gap of knowledge exists regarding the complete spectrum of clinical characteristics of COVID-19-related GBS. Recent findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 triggers GBS, as it follows a similar para-infectious pattern as the other viral agents contributing to the onset of GBS.

Keywords: COVID-19; GBS; Guillain–Barré syndrome; SARS-CoV-2; meta-analysis; neurological complications.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Female
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / complications
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Rare Diseases
  • SARS-CoV-2

Grants and funding

No funding was needed.