T cells in myasthenia gravis specific for embryonic acetylcholine receptor

Maria Pia Protti, Angelo A. Manfredi, James F. Howard, Bianca M. Conti-Tronconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In myasthenia gravis (MG) there is an autoimmune response against muscle acetylcholine receptor (AChR). Embryonic and adult muscles express different AChRs; embryonic AChR contains a γ subunit, instead of the homologous ε subunit that contributes to form adult AChR. We report propagation from the blood of MG patients of T helper (H) cell lines specific for human embryonic AChR, by cycles of stimulation with a pool of synthetic peptides corresponding to the complete sequence of the γ subunit (γ pool). The TH lines strongly recognized AChR from embryonic mammalian muscle, and reacted less or not at all with adult muscle AChR. The existence of TH cells specific for embryonic AChR strongly suggests that the primary anti–AChR sensitization in MG occurs in a tissue other than the innervated skeletal muscle. This may be within the thymus, which expresses an AChR similar or identical to embryonic muscle AChR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1809-1814
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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