Journal Article

Immunotherapy for Guillain-Barré syndrome: a systematic review

Richard A. C. Hughes, Anthony V. Swan, Jean-Claude Raphaël, Djillali Annane, Rinske van Koningsveld and Pieter A. van Doorn

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 130, issue 9, pages 2245-2257
Published in print September 2007 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Immunotherapy for Guillain-Barré syndrome: a systematic review

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Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nervous system thought to be due to autoimmunity for which immunotherapy is usually prescribed. To provide the best evidence on which to base clinical practice, we systematically reviewed the results of randomized trials of immunotherapy for GBS. We searched the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE in July 2006 and used the methods of the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group to extract and synthesize data. Almost all trials used a 7-point disability grade scale. In four trials with altogether 585 severely affected adult participants, those treated with plasma exchange (PE) improved significantly more on this scale 4 weeks after randomization than those who did not, weighted mean difference (WMD) 0.89 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14 to 0.63). In five trials with altogether 582 participants, the improvement on the disability grade scale with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) was very similar to that with PE, WMD 0.02 (95% CI 0.25 to 0.20). There was also no significant difference between IVIg and PE for any of the other outcome measures. In one trial with 148 participants, following PE with IVIg did not produce significant extra benefit. Limited evidence from three open trials in children suggested that IVIg hastens recovery compared with supportive care alone. Corticosteroids were compared with placebo or supportive treatment in six trials with altogether 587 participants. There was significant heterogeneity in the analysis of these trials which could be accounted for by analysing separately four small trials of oral corticosteroids with altogether 120 participants, in which there was significantly less improvement after 4 weeks with corticosteroids than without, WMD 0.82 (95% CI 0.17 to 1.47), and two large trials of intravenous methylprednisolone with altogether 467 participants, in which there was no significant difference between corticosteroids and placebo WMD 0.17 (95% CI 0.06 to 0.39). None of the treatments significantly reduced mortality. Since ∼20% of patients die or have persistent disability despite immunotherapy, more research is needed to identify better treatment regimens and new therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Guillain-Barré syndrome; treatment; systematic review; plasma exchange; intravenous immunoglobulin; corticosteroid

Journal Article.  8158 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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