The importance of thinking about Guillain-Barré syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case with pure dysautonomic presentation

Erica Biassoni, Andrea Assini, Ilaria Gandoglia, Luana Benedetti, Silvia Boni, Emanuele Pontali, Marcello Feasi, Federica Gandolfo, Massimo Del Sette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a peripheral nervous system disease caused by an immune-mediated inflammatory mechanism, usually triggered by a previous infectious process or vaccine; its typical presentation is a rapid and progressive bilateral limb hyposthenia, associated with sensory deficits and reduction or absence of osteotendinous reflexes. However, also autonomic nervous system can be involved with heart rate fluctuations, blood pressure instability, pupillary dysfunction, and urinary retention. Since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, GBS has been reported among neurological complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection, although etiopathological mechanisms still have to be clearly defined. We report the case of a 79-year-old man with multiple comorbidities, including diabetes, who was affected by SARS-CoV-2 interstitial pneumonia and developed dysautonomic symptoms after 10 days of hospitalization. A neurological evaluation was performed, and GBS was considered as a possible cause of the clinical manifestations. This hypothesis was confirmed by electrophysiological study and further supported, ex-juvantibus, by the satisfactory response to immunoglobulin treatment. In our opinion, this case of pure dysautonomic presentation of GBS in a SARS-CoV-2 positive patient is relevant because it suggests to consider GBS upon SARS-CoV-2 infection even if the symptoms have uncommon characteristics (e.g., pure vegetative manifestations) and if there are confounding factors which could lead to a misdiagnosis (e.g., old age, SARS-CoV-2 infection consequences and diabetes).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • COVID-19 neurological complications
  • Dysautonomia
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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