Cerebellar ataxia with anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies: study of 14 patients.
Honnorat J., Saiz A., Giometto B., Vincent A., Brieva L., de Andres C., Maestre J., Fabien N., Vighetto A., Casamitjana R., Thivolet C., Tavolato B., Antoine J., Trouillas P., Graus F.
BACKGROUND: Antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD-Ab) are described in patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes mellitus (IDDM), in stiff-man syndrome, and, recently, in a few patients with cerebellar ataxia. OBJECTIVES: To show a link between GAD-Ab and some patients with cerebellar ataxia and to clarify their clinical and immunologic profiles. METHODS: Serum samples were selected from 9000 samples of 4 laboratories. The selection criterion was an immunohistochemical pattern compatible with GAD-Ab that was confirmed by radioimmunoassay. We identified 22 patients with stiff-man syndrome and 14 with cerebellar ataxia and GAD-Ab. RESULTS: Thirteen of the 14 patients with cerebellar ataxia and GAD-Ab were women, and 11 had late-onset IDDM. Patients did not have clinical or radiologic evidence of brainstem involvement. Ten patients had oligoclonal IgG bands in the cerebrospinal fluid, and intrathecal GAD-Ab synthesis was observed in 5 of the 6 patients studied. The level of GAD-Ab of these patients was similar to those with stiff-man syndrome and significantly higher than those with IDDM or with polyendocrine autoimmunity (P<.001). However, the GAD-Ab levels of 6 of the 9 patients with polyendocrine autoimmunity overlapped with those of patients with cerebellar ataxia. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest a link between high level of GAD-Ab and some cases of cerebellar ataxia, particularly women with IDDM. If high serum levels of GAD-Ab are detected, the cerebrospinal fluid should be evaluated for the presence of oligoclonal IgG bands and intrathecal synthesis of GAD-Ab to further prove an autoimmune origin of the syndrome.