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Eur J Immunogenet. 1997 Jun;24(3):179-189. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2370.1997.00254.x.

HLA-DQ associations and T-cell receptor V-gene usage in peripheral blood of Swedish myasthenia gravis patients.

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Department of Medicine and ,Department of Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, ,Microbiology and Tumour Biology Centre, and ,Department of Neurology, Söder Hospital, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


To characterize better the functional aspects of the HLA class II associations with myasthenia gravis (MG), T-cell receptor (TCR) V alpha/beta elements were studied in peripheral blood in 29 Swedish MG patients. HLA typing had previously been done using polymerase chain reaction with sequence-specific primers (PCR-SSP) or combined with sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes (PCR-SSO). The TCR V gene expression was determined by fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis using 12 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) that detected 30-40% of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. No correlation between HLA-DQ genotype and TCR V elements could be found, nor was any restricted V gene usage seen. Fourteen (48%) of the patients had T cells showing signs of abnormal expansion in peripheral blood. There was an increased expression of TCR V gene elements in CD8+ T cells in patients (13/29) compared with CD4+ T cells in patients (5/29) (P < 0.05) and in unthymectomized patients compared with controls (14/56) (P < 0.005). TCR V gene expression was also increased in the CD8+ population in unthymectomized (7/8) compared with thymectomized patients (6/21) (P < 0.01). There was an increased expression in both CD4+ and CD8+ populations in unthymectomized patients (7/8, 88%), compared with thymectomized patients (7/21) (P < 0.05). We conclude that the abnormal T-cell expansion in peripheral blood could be a reflection of non-specific pathogenic processes in the muscle and thymus.

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