The effect of thymectomy on autoreactive T- and B-lymphocytes in myasthenia gravis

Richard Åhlberg, Qing Yi, Ritva Pirskanen, Georg Matell, Ann Charlott Sundevall, Bengt Åberg, Ann Kari Lefvert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Eleven patients with myasthenia gravis were followed for three years after thymectomy. Acetylcholine receptor-specific T-cell stimulation was found in 8/11 patients before operation as compared to 2/11 three years after thymectomy. Changes of T-cell antireceptor-reactivity were commonly paralleled by changes in disease severity. The numbers of cells secreting IL-2 upon stimulation with human acetylcholine receptor correlated with those secreting IFN-γ. T-cell reactivity against a monoclonal acetylcholine receptor antibody did not decrease after thymectomy. Such reactivity could reflect a beneficial immune response counteracting anti-receptor reactivity. The frequency of autoantibody-secreting cells remained unchanged, while the serum concentration of acetylcholine receptor antibodies started to decrease one year after thymectomy. All examined thymus-cell suspensions contained autoreactive T- and B-lymphocytes. There was a preferential enrichment of autoreactive lymphocytes in the thymus in a few patients with recent onset of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • T lymphocyte
  • cytokines
  • myasthenia gravis
  • thymectomy
  • thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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