Decreased β2-adrenergic receptor density on peripheral blood mononuclear cells in myasthenia gravis

Bi Ying Xu, Qing Yi, Ritva Pirskanen, George Matell, Hubert Eng, Ann Kari Lefvert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) are present on both lymphocytes and skeletal muscle cells. Antibodies and T cells that react with these receptors are present in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG). Immune reactivity against the β2AR may thus modify both the immune and the muscle functions in MG. In this study, we analysed the density and affinity of β2AR on peripheral blood mononuclear cells using a radioligand binding assay. The density (B(max)) of the receptor on cells from patients with MG was significantly lower than that on cells from patients with other neurological disorders and healthy individuals. The affinity (Kd) of the receptor and the concentration of the second messenger, cAMP, in the cells did nor differ between the groups. Serum antibodies against β2AR were demonstrated in 22% of 27 MG patients vs. 0% of 26 healthy controls. Incubation of cells with serum or purified IgG containing antibodies against the β2AR resulted in a decline in ligand binding of the receptor in samples from three out of five patients. Thus, this study suggests that a downregulation of the β2AR may occur in MG. This downregulation might be of importance in the pathogenesis of the disease and its symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-406
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1997


  • Autoantibody
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Radioligand binding assay
  • Receptor
  • β-adrenergic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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