• experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis;
  • dendritic cells;
  • TGF-β1


Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) is an animal model for human myasthenia gravis (MG), characterized by an autoaggressive T-cell-dependent antibody-mediated immune response directed against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) of the neuromuscular junction. Dendritic cells (DC) are unique antigen-presenting cells which control T- and B-cell functions and induce immunity or tolerance. Here, we demonstrate that DC exposed to TGF-β1 in vitro mediate protection against EAMG. Freshly prepared DC from spleen of healthy rats were exposed to TGF-β1 in vitro for 48 h, and administered subcutaneously to Lewis rats (2 × 106DC/rat) on day 5 post immunization with AChR in Freund’s complete adjuvant. Control EAMG rats were injected in parallel with untreated DC (naive DC) or PBS. Lewis rats receiving TGF-β1-exposed DC developed very mild symptoms of EAMG without loss of body weight compared with control EAMG rats receiving naive DC or PBS. This effect of TGF-β1-exposed DC was associated with augmented spontaneous and AChR-induced proliferation, IFN-γ and NO production, and decreased levels of anti-AChR antibody-secreting cells. Autologous DC exposed in vitro to TGF-β1 could represent a new opportunity for DC-based immunotherapy of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases.