Guillain-Barre syndrome related to COVID-19: muscle and nerve biopsy findings


  • Dandara Costa Lima de Souza Department of Neurosciences – Neuromuscular Service, Centro Universitário Saúde ABC, Santo André, SP, Brazil
  • Rafael Basílio Guimarães Department of Neurosurgery – Centro Hospitalar do Município de Santo André, Santo André, SP, Brazil
  • Alzira Alves de Siqueira Carvalho aDepartment of Neurosciences – Neuromuscular Service, Centro Universitário Saúde ABC, Santo André, SP, Brazil



COVID-19, Peripheral nervous system, biopsies, Guillain-Barré Syndrome


Background: The involvement of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) in COVID-19 is rare and, to date, morphological aspects from muscle and nerve biopsies have not been reported. Here, we describe a case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) related to COVID-19 and demonstrate findings from peripheral nerve and skeletal muscle biopsies.

A 79-year-old man presented with progressive weakness in both legs over one-week, evolving to both arms and urinary retention within 6 days. Four days earlier, he had a cough, febrile sensation and mild respiratory discomfort. On admission, his was afebrile, and without respiratory distress. A neurological examination disclosed asymmetric proximal weakness, diminished reflexes and no sensitive abnormalities. Three days later, the patient presented with bilateral facial weakness and proximal muscle strength worsened. Deep tendon reflexes and plantar responses were absent. Both superficial and profound sensitivity were decreased. From this point, oxygen saturation worsened, and the patient was placed on mechanical ventilation. CSF testing revealed one cell and protein 185 mg/dl. A chest CT showed the presence of ground-glass opacities and RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 was positive. The muscle biopsy revealed moderate neuromyopathic findings with positive expression for MHC-class I, C5b9, CD8 and CD68. The nerve biopsy showed inflammatory infiltrates predominantly with endoneurial compound formed by CD45 and CD68. The patient was treated with Oseltamivir for 9 days followed by IVIG for 5 days and died three days later of septic shock.

Discussion: This is the first documented case of GBS associated with COVID-19 with a muscle and nerve anatomopathological study. A systematic review about neurological complications caused by COVID-19 described 11 patients with GBS. The morphological features reported in our patient showed signs of involvement of the immune system, suggesting that direct viral invasion could have played a role in the pathogenesis of peripheral nerve injury.

Hereafter, further research will be necessary to understand the triggers for these cells migrating into the peripheral nerve.


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