Papers And Originals

Myasthenia Gravis, Autoantibodies, and HL-A Antigens

Br Med J 1974; 1 doi: (Published 26 January 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;1:131
  1. T. E. W. Feltkamp,
  2. P. M. Van Den Berg-Loonen,
  3. L. E. Nijenhuis,
  4. C. P. Engelfriet,
  5. A. L. Van Rossum,
  6. J. J. Van Loghem,
  7. H. J. G. H. Oosterhuis


    The serum of 100 patients with myasthenia gravis and 441 of their first-degree relatives was studied for the presence of autoantibodies against several antigens. Antibodies to skeletal muscle were present in 22% of the patients and in 2% of the relatives. Both these frequencies were significantly higher than those in matched control subjects. Also, antinuclear antibodies were present more often both in the patients and in the relatives. Typing for HL-A antigens had shown a positive correlation between HL-A 8 and myasthenia gravis which was significantly higher in women than in men. Antibodies to skeletal muscle and thymomas were found to be much rarer in HL-A 8-positive patients than in HL-A 8-negative patients; HL-A 8-positive patients acquired the disease at an earlier age.

    HL-A 2-positive patients more often had thymomas and antibodies to skeletal muscle than HL-A 2-negative patients; HL-A 2-positive patients acquired myasthenia gravis at a later age.

    The fact that the clinical aspects of the HL-A 8-negative and HL-A 2-positive patients were different from those of the HL-A 8-positive and HL-A 2-negative patients justifies the hypothesis that there are two forms of myasthenia gravis.