Anti-neuronal antibodies in patients with HCV-related mixed cryoglobulinemia
ABSTRACT Mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) is an immunological disorder characterized by immune-complex-mediated systemic vasculitis involving small vessels, which may present with renal, cutaneous, rheumatologic, and/or neurological manifestations. Until recently, the possible appearance of anti-neuronal autoantibodies in peripheral neuropathy occurring in the context of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated IgMk/IgG MC has not been extensively addressed. Therefore, a sample of these patients were evaluated by means of immuno-enzyme methods of anti-neuronal autoantibody detection. A significant increase in plasma titers of both anti-GM1 ganglioside and anti-sulfatide was observed. Abnormal titers were associated with evidence of active neuropathy as assessed by electrophysiologic studies. While peripheral neuropathy was traditionally thought to result from axonal ischemic damage caused by deposits of cryoprecipitable immune complexes in the vasa nervorum, a significant association between anti-GM1 and anti-sulfatide antibodies and involvement of the peripheral nervous system was observed in HCV-associated mixed IgMk/IgG cryoglobulinemia.Anti-neuronal reactivity could be a direct trigger of neurologic injury in this disorder.