(HealthDay)—Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), according to a study published online Aug. 4 in the Annals of Neurology.

Patrick M. Meyer Sauteur, M.D., from the University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues examined the role of M. pneumoniae in GBS in a case-control study involving 189 and 24 with GBS. Cases were compared to control cohorts for analysis of against M. pneumoniae (479 controls) and galactocerebroside (GalC; 198 controls).

The researchers found that 3 and 0 percent of adult GBS patients and healthy controls (P = 0.16) and 21 and 7 percent of children (P = 0.03), respectively, had anti-M. pneumoniae immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies. Four percent of adults and 25 percent of children with GBS had anti-GalC antibodies (P = 0.001). Patients who were positive for anti-GalC had more frequent preceding respiratory symptoms, cranial nerve involvement, and a better outcome. There was a correlation for anti-GalC antibodies with anti-M. pneumoniae antibodies (P < 0.001), and these cross-reacted with different strains of M. pneumoniae. Anti-GalC IgM antibodies were found in GBS patients with M. pneumoniae infection and in patients without neurological disease; anti-GalC IgG antibodies were only found in with GBS.

"M. pneumonia infection is associated with GBS, more frequently in children than adults, and elicits anti-GalC , of which specifically anti-GalC IgG may contribute to the pathogenesis of GBS," the authors write.