Molecular mimicry between self and microbial components has been proposed as the pathogenic mechanism of autoimmune diseases, and this hypothesis is proven in Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré syndrome, the most frequent cause of acute neuromuscular paralysis, sometimes occurs after Campylobacter jejuni enteritis. Gangliosides are predominantly cell-surface glycolipids highly expressed in nervous tissue, whilst lipo-oligosaccharides are major components of the Gram-negative bacterium C. jejuni outer membrane. IgG autoantibodies to GM1 ganglioside were found in the sera from patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Molecular mimicry was demonstrated between GM1 and lipo-oligosaccharide of C. jejuni isolated from the patients. Disease models by sensitization of rabbits with GM1 and C. jejuni lipo-oligosaccharide were established. Guillain-Barré syndrome provided the first verification that an autoimmune disease is triggered by molecular mimicry. Its disease models are helpful to further understand the molecular pathogenesis as well as to develop new treatments in Guillain-Barré syndrome.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.