Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID-19: an observational multicentre study from two Italian hotspot regions

Massimiliano Filosto, Stefano Cotti Piccinelli, Stefano Gazzina, Camillo Foresti, Barbara Frigeni, Maria Cristina Servalli, Maria Sessa, Giuseppe Cosentino, Enrico Marchioni, Sabrina Ravaglia, Chiara Briani, Francesca Castellani, Gabriella Zara, Francesca Bianchi, Ubaldo Del Carro, Raffaella Fazio, Massimo Filippi, Eugenio Magni, Giuseppe Natalini, Francesco PalmeriniAnna Maria Perotti, Andrea Bellomo, Maurizio Osio, Giuseppe Scopelliti, Marinella Carpo, Andrea Rasera, Giovanna Squintani, Pietro Emiliano Doneddu, Valeria Bertasi, Maria Sofia Cotelli, Laura Bertolasi, Gian Maria Fabrizi, Sergio Ferrari, Federico Ranieri, Francesca Caprioli, Elena Grappa, Laura Broglio, Giovanni De Maria, Ugo Leggio, Loris Poli, Frank Rasulo, Nicola Latronico, Eduardo Nobile-Orazio, Alessandro Padovani, Antonino Uncini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Single cases and small series of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) have been reported during the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak worldwide. We evaluated incidence and clinical features of GBS in a cohort of patients from two regions of northern Italy with the highest number of patients with COVID-19.

METHODS: GBS cases diagnosed in 12 referral hospitals from Lombardy and Veneto in March and April 2020 were retrospectively collected. As a control population, GBS diagnosed in March and April 2019 in the same hospitals were considered.

RESULTS: Incidence of GBS in March and April 2020 was 0.202/100 000/month (estimated rate 2.43/100 000/year) vs 0.077/100 000/month (estimated rate 0.93/100 000/year) in the same months of 2019 with a 2.6-fold increase. Estimated incidence of GBS in COVID-19-positive patients was 47.9/100 000 and in the COVID-19-positive hospitalised patients was 236/100 000. COVID-19-positive patients with GBS, when compared with COVID-19-negative subjects, showed lower MRC sum score (26.3±18.3 vs 41.4±14.8, p=0.006), higher frequency of demyelinating subtype (76.6% vs 35.3%, p=0.011), more frequent low blood pressure (50% vs 11.8%, p=0.017) and higher rate of admission to intensive care unit (66.6% vs 17.6%, p=0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows an increased incidence of GBS during the COVID-19 outbreak in northern Italy, supporting a pathogenic link. COVID-19-associated GBS is predominantly demyelinating and seems to be more severe than non-COVID-19 GBS, although it is likely that in some patients the systemic impairment due to COVID-19 might have contributed to the severity of the whole clinical picture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 6 2020


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