Anti-sulfatide antibodies in neurological disease: binding to rat dorsal root ganglia neurons
Increased titers of anti-sulfatide antibodies were detected by ELISA in 5 of 200 patients and control subjects. All 5 patients had sensory impairment; 4 had neuropathy, and one had multiple sclerosis. Of the patients with neuropathy, 2 had a clinical syndrome of small fiber sensory neuropathy with normal electrophysiological or nerve biopsy studies, 1 had a sensorimotor axonal neuropathy associated with IgM monoclonal gammopathy, and 1 had sensorimotor neuropathy with multifocal motor conduction block and anti-GM1 antibodies. The anti-sulfatide antibodies bound to the surface of unfixed rat dorsal root ganglia neurons and human neuroblastoma cells, and to fixed sections of central and peripheral myelin. No binding was detected following intraneural injection into rat sciatic nerves. Pre-absorption with sulfatide but not with galactocerebroside eliminated the tissue binding activity. These findings indicate that increased titers of anti-sulfatide antibodies are found in patients with sensory impairment but are not restricted to a particular neurological syndrome or type of neuropathy. The significance of anti-sulfatide antibodies is uncertain although sulfatide on dorsal root ganglia neurons may be a target antigen.