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The Guillain–Barrè peptide signatures: from Zika virus to Campylobacter, and beyond

Authors Lucchese G, Kanduc D

Received 15 April 2017

Accepted for publication 31 May 2017

Published 1 August 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 1—11


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Jonathan Dinman

Guglielmo Lucchese,1 Darja Kanduc2

1Brain Language Laboratory, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany; 2Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and Biopharmaceutics, University of Bari, Bari, Italy

Abstract: Scientific attention has focused recently on the link between Guillain–Barrè syndrome (GBS) and Zika virus (ZIKV). Two related questions emerged: 1) what triggered the violent 2014 outbreak of a virus, which, first identified in 1947, had caused only a limited number of documented cases of human infection until 2007 and 2) which molecular mechanism(s) relate ZIKV active infection to GBS, an autoimmune inflammatory polyradiculoneuropathy. Capitalizing on the increased interest on ZIKV and hypothesizing the involvement of autoimmune mechanisms, we searched for minimal epitopic determinants shared between ZIKV and other GBS-related pathogens – namely, Epstein–Barr virus, human cytomegalovirus, influenza virus, Campylobacter jejuni, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, among others – and human proteins that, when altered, have been associated with myelin disorders and axonopathies. We report a considerable peptide matching that links GBS-related pathogens to human proteins related to myelin disorders and axonopathies. Crucially, the shared pentapeptides repeatedly occur throughout numerous epitopes validated as immunopositive by a conspicuous scientific literature. The data support a scenario where multiple different infections over time and resulting multiple cross-reactions may contribute to the pathogenesis of GBS. In practice, previous infection(s) might create immunologic memory able to trigger uncontrolled hyperimmunogenicity during a successive pathogen exposure. ZIKV pandemic appears to be an exemplar model for a proof-of-concept of such multiple cross-reactivity mechanism.

Keywords: peptide sharing, GBS-related human proteins, GBS-related pathogens, multiple cross reactivity, hyperimmunogenicity

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