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This article is the author’s final published version in Neurology,Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2024.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology.


OBJECTIVES: To describe a patient with mild GAD-positive stiff-leg syndrome (SLS) who developed severely disabling stiff-person syndrome (SPS) 1 week after mild COVID-19 and discuss the impact of viral implications.

METHODS: Video-documented serial clinical observations at baseline, after acute COVID-19, and after IVIG treatments.

RESULTS: A 39-year-old man with left-SLS was stable during a 2-year follow-up with low-dose antispasmodics, working fully and functioning normally, even able to run. One week after mild COVID-19, he started to experience generalized SPS symptomatology that steadily worsened the following 2-3 weeks, becoming unable to walk, requiring a walker, with significant thoracolumbar and bilateral leg stiffness and spasms. GAD ab were very high. After 3 monthly IVIg infusions he showed improvements, but his gait remains significantly stiff. All clinical changes, from baseline to post-Covid, and then post- IVIg have been video-documented.

DISCUSSION: This is the first, clearly documented, severe GAD-positive SPS after COVID-19. Although viral or postviral causation can be incidental, the temporal connection with acute COVID-19, the severe disease worsening after symptom-onset, and the subsequent steady improvement after IVIg, suggest viral-triggered autoimmunity. Because COVID-19 reportedly can trigger or worsen GAD-associated diabetes type 1 through proinflammatory mediators, and SPS has been reportedly triggered by West Nile Virus, possibly through molecular mimicry, this case of acutely converting GAD-SLS to GAD-SPS suggest the need to explore viral etiologies in patients with GAD-SPS experiencing acute, long-lasting episodic exacerbations of stiffness and spasms.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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