Erasmus University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 2040, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 3000 CA. National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases, PO Box 114, Queen Square, London, UK, WC1N 3BG. National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases, PO Box 114, London, UK, WC1N 3BG. King's College Hospital, Department of Neurology, Denmark Hill, London, UK, SE5 9RS. Charing Cross Hospital, Neuromuscular Unit 3 North, Fulham Palace Road, London, UK, W6 8RF.
The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2020;1:Cd008630
BACKGROUND Plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin, but not corticosteroids, are beneficial in Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). The efficacy of other pharmacological agents is unknown. This review was first published in 2011 and previously updated in 2013, and 2016. OBJECTIVES To assess the effects of pharmacological agents other than plasma exchange, intravenous immunoglobulin and corticosteroids for GBS. SEARCH METHODS On 28 October
2019, we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase for treatments for GBS. We also searched clinical trials registries. SELECTION CRITERIA We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs of acute GBS (within four weeks from onset) of all types and degrees of severity, and in individuals of all ages. We discarded trials that investigated only corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin or plasma exchange. We included other pharmacological treatments or combinations of treatments compared with no treatment, placebo or another treatment. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS We followed standard Cochrane methodology. MAIN RESULTS We found six trials of five different interventions eligible for inclusion in this review. The trials were conducted in hospitals in Canada, China, Germany, Japan and the UK, and included 151 participants in total. All trials randomised participants aged 16 years and older (mean or median age in the trials ranged from 36 to 57 years in the intervention groups and 34 to 60 years in the control groups) with severe GBS, defined by the inability to walk unaided. One trial also randomised patients with mild GBS who were still able to walk unaided. We identified two new trials at this update.The primary outcome measure for this review was improvement in disability grade four weeks after randomisation. Four of six trials had a high risk of bias in at least one respect. We assessed all evidence for the outcome mean improvement in disability grade as very low certainty, which means that we were unable to draw any conclusions from the data. One RCT with 19 participants compared interferon beta-1a (IFNb-1a) and placebo. It is uncertain whether IFNb-1a improves disability after four weeks (mean difference (MD) -0.1; 95% CI -1.58 to 1.38; very low-certainty evidence). A trial with 10 participants compared brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) and placebo. It is uncertain whether BDNF improves disability after four weeks (MD 0.75; 95% CI -1.14 to 2.64; very low-certainty evidence). A trial with 37 participants compared cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) filtration and plasma exchange. It is uncertain whether CSF filtration improves disability after four weeks (MD 0.02; 95% CI -0.62 to 0.66; very low-certainty evidence). One trial that compared the Chinese herbal medicine tripterygium polyglycoside with corticosteroids with 43 participants did not report the risk ratio (RR) for an improvement by one or more disability grade after four weeks, but did report improvement after eight weeks. It is uncertain whether tripterygium polyglycoside improves disability after eight weeks (RR 1.47; 95% CI 1.02 to 2.11; very low-certainty evidence). We performed a meta-analysis of two trials comparing eculizumab and placebo with 41 participants. It is uncertain whether eculizumab improves disability after four weeks (MD -0.23; 95% CI -1.79 to 1.34; very low-certainty evidence). Serious adverse events were uncommon in each of the trials and evidence was graded as either low or very low. It is uncertain whether serious adverse events were more common with IFNb-1a versus placebo (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.23 to 3.72; 19 participants), BNDF versus placebo (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.28 to 3.54; 10 participants) or CSF filtration versus plasma exchange (RR 0.13, 95% CI 0.01 to 2.25; 37 participants). The trial of tripterygium polyglycoside did not report serious adverse events. There may be no clear difference in the number of serious adverse events after eculizumab compared to placebo (RR 1.90, 0.34 to 10.50; 41 participants). We found no clinically important differences in any of the outcome measures selected for this review in any of the six trials. However, sample sizes were small and therefore clinically important benefit or harm cannot be excluded. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS All six RCTs were too small to exclude clinically important benefit or harm from the assessed interventions. The certainty of the evidence was low or very low for all interventions and outcomes.