Neural autoantibodies in patients with neurological symptoms and histories of chemical/mold exposures.


Journal Article

A number of studies have linked exposures to industrial and household chemicals and biological toxins to increased risk of autoimmunity in general and elevated levels of autoantibodies to neural antigens specifically. Elevated neural autoantibodies are biomarkers for many diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Our study reports levels of six types of neural autoantibodies in a group of 24 toxicant-exposed patients. The patients were exposed to a variety of toxicants including contaminated drinking water (four patients), building water/mold damage (eight patients), pesticides (four patients), and other assorted toxic chemicals (eight patients). Levels of all six neural autoantibodies were significantly elevated in most patients and in the patient group at large, with mean antibody levels for the 24 chemically exposed patients (relative to a healthy control population), in descending order: 475% for tau proteins, 391% for microtubule associated proteins-2, 334% for neurofilament proteins (NFP), 302% for myelin basic protein, 299% for glial fibrillary acidic proteins, and 225% for tubulin. Tau protein autoantibodies were significantly elevated in the patient groups with peripheral neuropathy, muscle and joint pain, asthma, and chemical sensitivity. Autoantibodies to tubulin were significantly higher in the chemical sensitivity and asthma patients, autoantibodies to NFP were significantly higher in the patients with sleep apnea, whereas S-100B autoantibodies were significantly increased in patients with muscle/joint pain, asthma, and apnea/insomnia. In patients exposed to environmental toxicants, measurements of autoantibodies may be useful for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. This study adds to the scientific literature the ability of a broad spectrum of environmental triggers adversely affecting the nervous system through the process of autoimmunity, which may explain the increasing incidence of neurodegenerative diseases.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Abou-Donia, MB; Lieberman, A; Curtis, L

Published Date

  • January 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 44 - 53

PubMed ID

  • 29069985

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29069985

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1477-0393

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0748233717733852


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England