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Anti-Purkinje cell antibodies have been reported in cerebellar ataxia following Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. We investigated autoantibody responses, including anti-Purkinje cell antibodies, and the clinical course in eight children who developed post-varicella ataxia, five of their siblings with uncomplicated varicella, one child with post-EBV ataxia, two children with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and one with neuroblastoma associated ataxia, and in age and gender matched controls.
Autoantibodies were tested by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on cryopreserved cerebrum and cerebellum sections. Other autoantibodies were measured by conventional IIF protocols using HEp-2 cells as a substrate. Antibodies to myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG), asialo-GM1, b2 glycoprotein 1, cardiolipin and myelin basic protein (MBP) were measured by ELISA.
Three of eight children with acute post-varicella ataxia, one child with post-EBV ataxia, one child with ADEM and one child with uncomplicated varicella, had high titer autoantibodies (<1/160) that reacted with cerebrum and cerebellar tissue. This reactivity was not seen in one child with ADEM, in one with neuroblastoma and ataxia, in the remainder of the children with uncomplicated varicella or age and gender matched controls. Autoantibodies were not seen in CSF from two children with post-varicella ataxia. The punctate staining seen on cerebrum and cerebellum sections co-localized with rabbit antibodies to the centrosome protein pericentrin. All patients with strong reactivity with cerebrum and cerebellar tissue by IIF had elevated levels of anti-MAG that was not confirmed by absorption assay. No reactivity was seen with asialo-GM1, MBP, b2 glycoprotein 1 or cardiolipin. None of the sera had autoantibodies directed against endosomes, the Golgi complex, or the paraneoplastic autoantigens Hu and Yo.
Some children with post-viral ataxia develop antibodies that have strong reactivity with cerebral and cerebellar tissue. Some of the antigenic reactivity co-localized with the centrosome protein pericentrin.
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