The measurement of antibodies against sulfatides, as well as antibodies against gangliosides, is used in the investigation of certain neurological diseases, particularly peripheral neuropathies.
Peripheral neuropathies are a group of neurological disorders that affect one or more peripheral nerves. The causes of peripheral neuropathies include genetic mutations, compression and mechanical nerve damage, inflammation, metabolic disorders, vitamin deficiency, exposure to toxins or drugs, and the presence of autoantibodies. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on the location and mechanism of nerve damage but may include sensory disturbances and loss of sensitivity, muscle weakness and pain. Peripheral neuropathies are usually classified according to the type of nerves affected, mainly motor, mainly aesthetic, or a combination of the two.
The presence of antibodies against sulfatides, both IgG but more commonly IgM, have been associated with aesthetic and aesthetic-motor neuropathies that are sometimes accompanied by pain. In addition, the presence of IgG antibodies against sulfatides has been associated with remote sensory polyneuropathy (DSP) in HIV patients.