Severe sensory ataxia and demyelinating polyneuropathy with IgM anti-GM2 and GalNAc-GD1a antibodies

Glenn Lopate, Rati Choksi, Alan Pestronk

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33 Scopus citations


Several polyneuropathy syndromes have been described with polyclonal serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) or immunoglobulin M (IgM) binding to gangliosides GM2 and GalNAc-GD1a that contain the terminal trisaccharide moiety GalNAc(β1-4)Gal(α2-3)NeuAc. We describe the clinical and electrodiagnostic features in two patients with serum IgM monoclonal anti-GM2 and anti-GalNAc-GD1a antibodies. These patients had slowly progressive, panmodal sensory loss with severe sensory ataxia. Electrodiagnostic testing showed demyelinating features. Prominent improvement in gait ataxia occurred after treatment with human immune globulin but not after other immunomodulating therapies. Enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay and thin-layer chromatography demonstrate that the patient's serum monoclonal IgM bound to gangliosides GM2 and GalNac-GD1a but not to gangliosides without the GalNAc(β1-4)Gal(α2-3)NeuAc moiety. This neuropathy differs from previously reported neuropathy syndromes associated with polyclonal GM2 and GalNAc-GD1a antibodies and from other chronic demyelinating polyneuropathies. We conclude that a distinct syndrome of chronic demyelinating neuropathy with sensory ataxia, unresponsive to corticosteroids, is associated with monoclonal IgM binding to gangliosides with a terminal GalNAc(β1-4)Gal(α2-3)NeuAc trisaccharide moiety. Diagnosis of this syndrome is important to direct appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-836
Number of pages9
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Demyelination
  • GM2
  • GalNAc-GD1a
  • Ganglioside
  • Monoclonal protein
  • Neuropathy
  • Sensory ataxia


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