Original article| Volume 23, SUPPLEMENT 1, S113-S117, December 2001

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Brain-directed autoantibodies levels in the serum of Rett syndrome patients


      Increased titer of brain-directed autoantibodies (AAB) may represent a risk for brain development in children with Rett syndrome (RTT). The aims of this work were to study the levels of brain-directed AAB, mainly nerve growth factor (NGF) and S-100 protein AAB, to analyze morphological features of brain labeling by AAB produced in RTT patients, and to correlate with clinical manifestation. The increased titer of anti-NGF AAB, but not of anti-S100 AAB has been determined in the blood of RTT patients. The blood from five RTT girls was investigated repeatedly (two to four times) within 0.5–3 years. In these RTT patients the level of anti-NGF AAB was stable, not depending on the stage of illness, so individual stability of anti-NGF AAB levels have been detected. However, the negative correlation between the level of these AAB and severity of disease has been found: girls with the milder course of illness (with relative preservation of speech and locomotor functions, later disease onset, and later development of regressive symptoms) were characterized by the higher levels of AAB. The study also revealed immunohistochemical labeling of neuronal population with serum from RTT patients. Serum AAB from RTT cases labeled the cytoplasm and apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the neocortex and hippocampus, neurons in basal ganglia and brain stem, but not in the cerebellum of rats. Our results show the presence of brain-directed AAB in blood serum of RTT patients, which suggests an autoimmune component in pathogenesis of RTT.


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