Ganglioside GM1, a molecular target for immunological and toxic attacks: similarity of neuropathological lesions induced by ganglioside-antiserum and cholera toxin

Acta Neuropathol. 1986;72(1):55-61. doi: 10.1007/BF00687947.


Ganglioside-antisera, the ganglioside GM1-ligands, cholera toxin (CT), and CT subunit B, respectively, were injected into the lumbosacral subarachnoid space of normal rats. The cytotoxic effects of the injected compounds on the peripheral and central nervous system were investigated by light and electron microscopy; the severity of CNS lesions was evaluated by quantitation of macrophages containing debris. In contrast to control sera and GM2-antiserum, antisera against a mixture of the major brain gangliosides GM1, GD1a, GD1b, and GT1b (MaBG) or against GM1 induced demyelination in spinal roots and spinal cord, as well as alterations of astroglia. CT induced the same cytotoxic effects as MaBG- and GM1-antisera, whereas CT subunit B was without effect. The ineffectiveness of GM2-antiserum is obviously due to the very low concentration of the specific binding target, GM2, on cell surfaces; that of CT subunit B to the lack of the cytotoxic operator, subunit A. Our results indicate that a similar pattern of neuropathological lesions may be effected by different cytotoxic mechanisms through attachment of the cytotoxic agent onto the cell surface via a common target molecule, and further substantiate the role of GM1-antibodies in the pathogenesis of demyelination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chinchilla
  • Cholera Toxin / toxicity*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / etiology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Gangliosides / immunology*
  • Immune Sera / pharmacology*
  • Nervous System / pathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology


  • Gangliosides
  • Immune Sera
  • Cholera Toxin