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A striational muscle antigen and myasthenia gravis-associated thymomas share an acetylcholine-receptor epitope.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental immunology
Publication Date
Volume
2
Issue
2
Pages
77–84
Identifiers
PMID: 1379503
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The coincidence of autoantibodies against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) and muscle striational antigens (SA) is a characteristic finding in thymoma-associated myasthenia gravis (MG), but their origins are still unresolved. Some common muscle antigens that were shown to be targets of anti-SA autoantibodies in thymoma-associated MG have also been detected in normal or neoplastic thymic epithelial cells, suggesting that the release of (eventually altered) antigens from the thymic tumors could elicit SA autoimmunity. In contrast to this model, we report here that titin, which is a recently reported target of SA autoimmunity, is not expressed in thymomas. In addition, we show that skeletal muscle type-II fibers exhibit a striational immunoreactivity with monoclonal antibody mAb155, which was previously identified to label a very immunogenic cytoplasmic epitope of the AChR and neoplastic epithelial cells of MG-associated thymomas. We conclude from these findings that titin autoimmunity in thymoma-associated MG is either due to a molecular mimicry mechanism involving tumor antigens (other than titin) or is a secondary phenomenon following release of titin from muscle. Based on the common immunoreactivity of the AChR, a striational antigen and thymoma, we suggest as the pathogenetic mechanism of thymoma-associated MGa "circulus vitiosus" in which SA autoimmunity could help maintain the AChR autoimmunity that is primarily elicited by the thymomas.

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