Cellular immunity in myasthenia gravis. Response to purified acetylcholine receptor and autologous thymocytes

David P Richman, J. Patrick, B. G W Arnason

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103 Scopus citations


To determine the potential importance of an immune response directed against the acetylcholine receptor in myasthenia gravis, the authors studied cell mediated immunity to receptor as measured by lymphocyte stimulation in 21 myasthenic patients and 21 controls, including 5 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The mean (±S.E.M.) stimulation index was 5.3±1.3 for patients and 1.2±0.3 for controls (P<0.005). In 14 patients the indexes were greater than 2.0 (9 of 11 males, 5 of 10 females, 10 of 11 elderly patients, and 5 of 6 with thymoma). Stimulation index correlated with disease activity (rs = 0.71, P<0.01). Peripheral blood lymphocytes from 1 of 3 young female myasthenic patients responded to autologous thymocytes but not to receptor; peripheral blood lymphocytes from the other 2 responded to receptor but not to autologous thymocytes. These findings are further evidence that autoimmunity to the acetylcholine receptor plays a central part in myasthenia gravis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-698
Number of pages5
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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