The role of acetylcholine receptor antibodies in myasthenia gravis

Stanley H. Appel, S. B. Elias, P. Chauvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease of man characterized by remitting and relapsing muscle fatigability. Although the etiology and pathogenesis are incompletely understood, the presence of circulating antibodies directed against the nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptor in 80-90% of patients with myasthenia gravis and the identification of immune complexes at their neuromuscular junction have helped explain the altered neuromuscular transmission. The ACh receptor antibodies do not block access of ACh to the receptor, but do decrease the number of receptors by accelerating their degradation both in rat myotube cultures and in in vivo models. In vitro these antibodies also inhibit the insertion of ACh receptors into the muscle membrane. Thus, the antibodies play a major role in myasthenia gravis. However, correlations of antibody titers with the clinical state following thymectomy or in neonatal myasthenia suggest that host factors may be equally important in determining whether the ACh receptor antibodies will result in clinical myasthenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2381-2385
Number of pages5
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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