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Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jun;19(6):842-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03636.x. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

High anti-EBNA-1 IgG levels are associated with early-onset myasthenia gravis.

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1
3rd Department of Internal Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

 Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder mediated by antibodies against the acethylcholine receptor (AchR) of the neuromuscular junction in the majority of patients.

METHODS:

 Here, we examined IgG antibodies against the type 1 nuclear antigen of Epstein-Barr virus (EBNA-1) in the sera of 158 patients with MG compared to 184 healthy controls.

RESULTS:

Although serum concentration in the sera was not different, high anti-EBNA-1 IgG titers (above 90th percentile of the normal values) were more common in the patients (26.6 vs. 16.3%, P=0.024). In addition, high EBNA-1 IgG levels occurred more frequently amongst the 94 patients with early-onset myasthenia gravis (EOMG, 30.8%) as compared to the 64 patients with late-onset disease (LOMG, 14.1%) (P=0.021). Using multiple logistic regression, high serum concentration of the anti-EBNA-1 IgG antibodies was significantly associated with EOMG (OR: 3.17, P=0.027), even after adjustment for sex, presence/absence of anti-AchR antibodies and presence/absence of anti-Titin antibodies. Out of 39 patients with EOMG, who underwent thymectomy, 18 patients (46%) had thymoma, 6 had thymic hyperplasia (15%), and 15 patients had thymic atrophy (39%); there was no difference comparing EBNA-1 antibody titers in the sera. As no correlation was found between the titers of anti-AchR, anti-Titin, and EBNA-1 antibodies, a dysregulated heterogeneous B-cell response was unlikely to be responsible for the elevated levels of EBV-associated antibody in patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

  In summary, our data suggest that high levels of EBNA-1 antibodies are more common in MG compared to healthy controls and are especially associated with EOMG.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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