A central role of the thymus in autosensitization to the acetylcholine receptor has been proposed to explain the immunopathogenetic processes in myasthenia gravis (MG). Two isoforms of the α-subunit of the acetylcholine receptor are known; they differ by a 25-amino-acid insertion coded by the P3A exon. We investigated the expression of the P3A exon by RNA polymerase chain reaction in fetal and adult human myoblasts and TE671 cells; both isoforms were expressed. Muscle biopsies from patients with MG, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and polymyositis were also studied and it was again found that both isoforms were expressed, indicating that the P3A exon is not associated with autoimmune, degenerative, and inflammatory muscle diseases. When P3A expression was studied in thymus samples from normal subjects and from thymectomized MG patients, the P3A+ subunit was absent in 75% of patients with involuted thymus and in all patients with thymomas but was present in normal thymuses and in patients with hyperplasia. Differential expression of the α-subunit isoforms of the acetylcholine receptor within the thymus may play a role in the immune pathogenesis of MG.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||American Journal of Pathology|
|Publication status||Published - 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine