Cell-Mediated Immune Response Against Titin in Myasthenia Gravis: Evidence for the Involvement of Th1 and Th2 cells


Dr Geir Olve SkeieDepartment of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, 5021 Bergen, Norway


Myasthenia gravis (MG) patients may have circulating autoantibodies against titin. In this study, we have stimulated T cells from MG patients with a recombinant polypeptide containing the main immunogenic region of titin, MGT-30 (myasthenia gravis titin-30 kDa). In an ELISpot assay, MGT-30 reactive interferon (IFN)-γ secreting cells (Th1 cells) were detected in six of 10 titin antibody positive MG patients. Such cells were not detected in any of the five titin antibody negative MG patients or in the seven blood donors. In three patients, the stimulated number of cells decreased when total remission of MG symptoms was achieved after thymectomy or following a period of intensive immunosuppressive medication. We detected MGT-30 interleukin (IL)-4 secreting cells (Th2 cells) in two of five titin antibody positive MG patients, but not in the two titin antibody negative patients or the five blood donors examined. We conclude that titin antibody positive MG patients have a combined Th1/Th2 cell mediated immunity against the muscle protein titin.