Myasthenia gravis thymus: Clinical, histological and culture correlations
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This paper attempts to quantitate immunohistological changes in the myasthenia gravis (MG) thymus and to correlate them with clinical and culture parameters in 40 untreated young onset patients covering a wide range of durations and serum anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibody titers. Total cellularities of both the thymic cortex and the medulla declined significantly with age. There was some hyperplasia of subcapsular and of medullary epithelial cells, often at the expense of cortex. A combined index of all hyperplastic changes correlated significantly with serum anti-AChR titre. Otherwise histological indices, e.g. of germinal centres (GC) were largely unrelated to any clinical parameters, especially duration of symptoms. Specific anti-AChR synthesis in culture (very closely related to serum titer) correlated better with the medullary lymph node-type T-cell areas; these were more widely prevalent and MG-specific. In contrast, basal and mitogen-stimulated total IgG productivity followed the GC indices more closely. We propose that the variability of GC is due to their dependence on extraneous immune complexes, and we discuss whether they or the T-cell areas are primary or secondary abnormalities. Finally, we conclude that autosensitization in MG with thymic hyperplasia and neoplasia probably arises through separate mechanisms.
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