Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 106, Issue 6, pp 509–517 | Cite as

Inflammatory infiltrates in the spinal cord of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome

  • H. D. Müller
  • A. Beckmann
  • J. M. SchröderEmail author
Regular Paper


Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is defined as an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP) of the peripheral nervous system. Reports on central nervous system involvement in patients with GBS are rare and the histopathological analysis was usually restricted to conventional staining techniques. We were able to investigate four cases with GBS at autopsy in respect to the inflammatory infiltrates and histopathological changes in the spinal cord by immunohistochemistry using a panel of antibodies recognizing lymphocytes and different macrophage-activation antigens. There were increased inflammatory cell infiltrates comprising lymphocytes and macrophages in the spinal cord of two cases. In one of these two cases, GBS predominantly affecting the motor system similar to acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) developed following hepatitis B vaccination; in the second one, GBS developed rapidly 4 days after onset of intravenous purified GM1-ganglioside application affecting the motor as well as the sensory system, resembling acute motor sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN). Impairment of the spinal anterior horn cells with their axons was suggested to be responsible for prolonged motor symptoms and the predominantly axonal type of neuropathy at least as a late-stage feature in these two cases with fatal outcome. Insignificant cellular infiltrates in the spinal cord were noted in the other two GBS cases. Focal cellular infiltration of spinal nerve roots and meninges was similar in all cases.


Guillain-Barré syndrome Spinal cord Inflammatory infiltrates Macrophages Immunohistochemistry 



The technical assistance of Hannelore Wiederholt and Astrid Knischewski, and the secretarial help of Ingrid Schmitt are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für NeuropathologieUniversitätsklinikum der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Hochschule AachenAachenGermany

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