Antibodies against GM1 ganglioside affect K+ and Na+ currents in isolated rat myelinated nerve fibers

Ann Neurol. 1995 Apr;37(4):436-42. doi: 10.1002/ana.410370405.


High titers of anti-GM1 ganglioside antibodies (anti-GM1 antibodies) may be implicated in lower motor neuron disease. We studied the pathogenic role of anti-GM1 antibody using the petroleum jelly-gap voltage clamp technique on isolated single myelinated rat nerve fibers. Anti-GM1 antisera were obtained from rabbits immunized with GM1 ganglioside. Extracellularly applied anti-GM1 antisera without complement activity increased both the rate of rise and the amplitude of the K+ current elicited by step depolarization, with little effect on Na+ current. In the presence of active complement, however, anti-GM1 antibodies decreased the Na+ current, and caused a progressive increase of nonspecific leakage current. Neither complement alone nor complement-supplemented antisera from which anti-GM1 antibodies were depleted by affinity chromatography had any effect on ionic current. These observations indicate that anti-GM1 antibodies themselves can uncover K+ channels in the paranodal region, while anti-GM1 antibodies bound to the nodal membrane in the presence of complement may form antibody-complement complexes that block Na+ channels and disrupt the membrane at the node of Ranvier.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • G(M1) Ganglioside / immunology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / immunology*
  • Potassium Channels / immunology*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium Channels / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • G(M1) Ganglioside