According to Clark (2010), Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a disorder of the immune system. In this disorder, the body's immune system turns against the body system and attacks it, it specifically targets the peripheral nervous system.(1) The syndrome is preceded by an infection of the body system. It is believed that these infections are responsible for modification of the peripheral nerve cells which after the infection are identified as antigens.(2) The nervous system is responsible for coordinating various mechanical and physiological processes in the body. It then becomes evident that if the nervous system is compromised, then equally all the mechanical and physiological process will equally be compromised. This is seen in the victims of the syndrome. This research paper seeks to examine the Guillain-Barre Syndrome in relation to the muscular and the endocrine system. The paper seeks to find out whether there is any relationship between the Guillain-Barre syndrome and the muscular and the endocrine systems.
This is the main section of this paper. Under this section various studies and views from experts are presented in a logical manner that makes it possible to understand the syndrome in question. The disorder being already defined above, this section starts by examining the subtypes.
Guillain-Barre syndrome subtypes
Medpedia (2010) categorizes GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) into the following:
Ø AIDP: this is the most common and when GBS is referred to in general, the implication is AIDP. The abbreviation stands for Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy.
Ø AMAN: this is the Acute Motor Axonal Neuropathy. It is associated with the motor axonal processes and axonal degenerations.(3) This subtype also affects the myelin.(4)
Ø ASAN: this is the Acute Sensory Ascending neuropathy.
Ø AMSAN: this is the Acute Motor and Sensory Axonal Neuropathy.
This subtype involve both the sensory and motor axons.
Ø CIDP: this is the Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. This is the version of Guillain Barre Syndrome when it is in its chronic state.
As highlighted in the definition of the subtypes of GBS, this syndrome mainly targets the nervous system. It should be noted that the nervous system coordinates every function in the whole body thus it should not be surprising that this syndrome might paralyze the functioning of the whole body. The next section reviews how the syndrome affects the muscular system.
Guillain-Barre syndrome's Effect on the Nervous System
It has not yet been known how and why the Syndrome strikes some people while sparing others. Furthermore, what sets the syndrome into action is not yet known. What is clear to the medical research field is that the immune system of the body sets to attack the body. Clark (2010) refers to this as the autoimmune disease (p. 3).
According to Clark (2010) the body's antibodies set to attack the myelin sheath. As seen in the picture below, the myelin sheath offers protection to (by covering) the axons of many peripheral nerves.
Clark (2010) further notes that the myelin sheath is also responsible for speeding up the nerve signal transmission and makes it possible for the transmission to take place over long distances. This implies that destruction of the myelin sheath will surely affect nerve signal transmission. Clearly, this will mean that signals from the brain will not be transmitted fast and long distance transmission will equally be a problem. The efficiency of signal transmission will thus be effectively degraded by the attack on the myelin sheath. Signal transmitted through the nerves are to instruct the body organs on how they should go about carrying out their functions.
Guillain-Barre syndrome's Effect on the Muscular System
According to 'specialty publishing' (2006) the nerves literary are responsible for transmitting every single command from the brain to a particular body organ: think of walking, winking, smiling, digestion of food, thinking etcetera (p.
32-34). Then it can be assumed that attacking the myelin sheath due to the function it serves will literary bring down the whole body system, because coordination from the brain will miss out. This must be the reason behind the various symptoms which have been forwarded by many researchers. For instance, Meverett, (2009) associates the following symptoms with GBS, "loss of appetite, dizziness, vomiting, constipation, respiratory dysfunction, problems with mobility & posture, breathing & speech difficulties, lethargy, ligament & joint laxity, and poor reflexes " (Meverett, 2009, par. 3). According to Clark (2010), the reasons why the hands and legs are first affected is because of the long distance of nerve transmission.
With the assumption that the myelin sheath is destroyed transmission over long distances will be distorted (Clark, 2010, par. 5). Actually all the movement of the body organs will be affected due to the fact that they depend on muscles to make the movements and now that the muscular system is compromised.
Guillain-Barre syndrome's Effect on the Endocrine System
GBS affects the endocrine system in the same way it affects the muscular system. Just as in the muscular system, the endocrine system is affected through the malfunctioning of the nervous system. In order to show the relation of the nervous system and hence GBS to the endocrine system, the work of Bhagavan (1992) is reviewed. Bhagavan (1992) gives three levels of the endocrine system. The first level consists of the endocrine tissues which were embryologically derived from the nervous tissues. He names these as, "the hypothalamus, the adrenal medulla, the thyroid C-cell, and several of the gastrointestinal mucosal cells" (Bhagavan, 1992, p. 748).
The second level consists of the endocrine systems which are directly influenced by the nervous system: "anterior pituitary, the pancreatic islets, and the parathyroid" (Bhagavan, 1992, p. 748). The tissue at this level secretes hormones which have both long term and short effects. The third level has the tissues: "the adrenal cortex, the thyroids, and the gonads" (Bhagavan, 1992, p. 748). The hormones secreted by these tissues dictate the gene of cells. The tissues in the third level are regulated by the pituitary glands which in turn are controlled by the nervous system (Bhagavan, 1992, p. 748).
It is very clear at this point that GBS will directly affect the endocrine system. Meverett (2009) gives an example of how this can happen. The site claims that GBS can affect the bladder and intestinal functions. There are further claims that Neurogenic bladder can be caused by, "autonomic neuropathies resulting from endocrine disturbances such as diabetes mellitus" (Meverett, 2009, par. 7). Further claims linking GBS to the endocrinal system are presented, "A "motor paralytic bladder" can occur when there is selective involvement of efferents to the bladder or their motor neurons such as in poliomyelitis or Guillain-Barre syndrome (Meverett, 2009, par. 8). On constipation the link to GBS is possible because of the rectum location next to the bladder and the sharing of the same nerves. This may lead to the development of megacolon (Meverett, 2009, par. 8).
Therefore the link between GBS does exist. The link is the nervous system. The GBS destroys the nervous system and incapacitates the endocrine system as a result, since the endocrine system whole depend on the nervous system.
It has been shown that the GBS affects the myelin sheath of the nerve cells. This directly affects the muscular and the endocrine systems.
This is because these two systems are wholly dependent on the nervous system. The destruction of the myelin sheath renders the nerve cells inefficient especially when transmissions of commands have to be made over long distances. This can also lead to distortion of the messages which are sent to the brain or from the brain. This confusion leads to total lack of coordination of the endocrine and the muscular system.