Patterns of serum IgM antibodies to GM1 and GD1a gangliosides in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Alan Pestronk, Robert N. Adams, David Cornblath, Ralph W. Kuncl, Daniel B. Drachman, Lora Clawson Rn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


We studied the incidence and clinical correlates of serum antibodies to GM1 and GD1a gangliosides in patients with classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other “motor nerve” syndromes. Serum antibodies to GM1 and GD1a gangliosides were measured using enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assays. Our results showed that polyclonal immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to the GM1 or GD1a ganglioside or both were present at serum dilutions of 1:25 to 1:4,000 in 78% (57/73) of patients with ALS. Only 8% of normal controls had similar antibodies. The pattern of serum antibody reactivity correlated with the pattern of clinical involvement in our patients. Selective reactivity to GDla ganglioside was common when upper motor neuron signs were prominent. IgM reactivity to GM1 ganglioside was common in ALS patients with prominent lower motor neuron signs. Most patients with motor neuropathies had serum reactivity to both GM1 and GDla gangliosides. These results provide further evidence of ongoing autoimmune processes in ALS patients. There is a strong relationship between serum antiganglioside antibodies and patterns of clinical involvement in ALS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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