Alternate Names : Landry-Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the
body creates antibodies against its own tissue. In people with GBS, the
antibodies generally attack the myelin sheath, or lining of the nerves. They
may also attack part of the nerves themselves.
What is going on in the body?
Guillain-Barré syndrome is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that is
triggered by an infection, vaccination, or other factors. It causes a severe
inflammatory reaction around the nerves. The myelin sheath becomes swollen.
Impulses and messages cannot travel along the course of the nerve. In time,
nerve impulses are blocked.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Most cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome are triggered by an
infection. Two-thirds of the individuals with GBS have had an upper respiratory infection or
gastrointestinal infection 1 to 3 weeks before weakness develops. Other
infections that may trigger GBS include:
HIV infections, which
Some vaccinations may also trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome. These
immunization against group A
swine flu immunizations
Certain medicines have been identified as triggers for GBS. These
captopril, used to treat high blood pressure
danazol, a hormone derivative
gold, which is injected for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
heroin, a highly addictive illegal drug
penicillamine, which is used for chelation and to treat rheumatoid
streptokinase, used to dissolve blood clots
GBS may be triggered by a variety of other factors, such as:
blood cancers, especially Hodgkin
No one knows for sure why these factors trigger Guillain-Barré
syndrome in some people but not in others. More research is needed in this