Immune system attacks brain: Researchers discover new disease

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The cerebellum coordinates and balances the movements of the human body. © xmedipicx/IMAGO

Suddenly, previously healthy young people suffer from vision and gait problems. During the examination, the doctors discovered a new disease.

The cerebellum is an important region at the back of the brain. As stated therein idw – Scientific Information Service Responsible for the movements and balance of the human body. However, if there is a neurological disorder of the cerebellum – called cerebellar ataxia – this ability is impaired. Now researchers have discovered a new type of disease. Unlike previously known subgroups, it progresses very quickly.

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Researchers have discovered a new disease: sufferers suddenly can no longer move

Doctors made a similar discovery in four patients between the ages of 18 and 34: within a few days, the health of previously healthy people changed. Various symptoms appeared suddenly. Patients suffered from severe gait, speech and vision impairments. Among other things, sufferers saw double vision and had problems moving properly. A research team headed by Prof. Dr. Kurt-Wolfram Suess, senior physician in the Department of Neurology with Clinical Neurophysiology at Hannover Medical School (MHH), examined the victims and presented the results. study In a special issue Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry Before.

Doctors first suspected the 18-year-old patient had a bacterial or viral infection because they found high numbers of immune cells in his spinal fluid. However, when his blood serum was tested, it was revealed that the victim was suffering from cerebellar edema. It was previously unknown and progressed rapidly. Neurologists found higher numbers of immune cells in the nervous fluid of other study participants. Whether it is a sign of bacterial or viral infection, these are a special form of cerebellar ataxia.

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Cerebellar Ataxia: Damage to the cerebellum caused by autoantibodies

Cerebellar ataxia often begins gradually and develops over many years. The cause is mostly genetic. However, strokes or tumors can also be triggers. In contrast to previously known types of cerebellar ataxia, the newly discovered form of cerebellar damage is caused by a specific autoantibody. It is directed against the cells of the cerebellum and leads to severe inflammation. As a result, associated symptoms develop.

Using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), doctors were able to see a significant loss of substance in the affected cerebellum. However, for the majority of sufferers, it can be stopped with anti-inflammatory drugs and immunotherapy, so that three out of four patients’ health improves steadily.

This article contains only general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not replace a doctor’s visit in any way. Our editorial team is not allowed to answer personal questions about medical conditions.

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