To investigate pathogenic mechanisms in experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) and myasthenia gravis (MG), we studied the acute and chronic effects in rats of injection of rat monoclonal antibodies (MCABs) directed against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR). Animals were severely weak 12 h after a single injection, at which time macrophages were found invading endplate regions of muscle and cholinesterase-stained regions were separted from the underlying muscle fibers. Ultrastructural studies showed findings identical to the acute phase of EAMG: degenerating postsynaptic membranes and invasion and phagocytosis of endplate regions by macrophages. Animals receiving sublethal doses of MCAB recovered clinically by 4-5 days after injection. Recovery was accompanied by a progressive decrease in the number of macrophages associated with endplates and reapposition to the myofibers of the cholinesterasestained regions. Animals injected once, or repeatedly over several months, remained clinically and electromyographically normal after recovery from the initial episode of weakness, but their endplate ultrastructure was highly simplified with blunted or absent synaptic folds and shallow or absent secondary synaptic clefts. These studies demonstrate that anti-AChR MCABs can induce the changes of both acute and chronic EAMG. There is good correlation between the inflammatory changes and the acute clinical disease but poor correlation between morphological and clinical parameters in the chronic syndrome. The latter observation suggests that severe ultrastructural changes, similar to those seen in chronic EAMG and MG, cannot account, at least in rats, for the clinical and electrophysiologic abnormalities of MG.
- Anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody
- Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis
- Monoclonal antibody
- Myasthenia gravis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology