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, 82 (22), 1976-83

Anti-agrin Autoantibodies in Myasthenia Gravis


Anti-agrin Autoantibodies in Myasthenia Gravis

Christiane Gasperi et al. Neurology.


Objective: Because the extracellular matrix protein agrin is essential for neuromuscular junction formation and maintenance, we tested the hypothesis that autoantibodies against agrin are present in sera from patients with myasthenia gravis (MG).

Methods: We determined the presence of anti-agrin antibodies in 54 sera from patients with generalized MG using a solid-phase ELISA with purified mini-agrin protein. Thirty of the 54 sera were seronegative for antibodies against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) or muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK), 15 had elevated levels of anti-MuSK, and 9 had elevated levels of anti-AChR autoantibodies. Sixteen sera from healthy volunteers served as control.

Results: Five sera with elevated levels of anti-agrin antibodies were identified. The concentration of the antibodies ranged between 0.04 and 0.12 nM. Four of the 5 agrin-positive sera were also positive for anti-MuSK, one was positive for anti-AChR, and 2 had elevated levels of anti-low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 (LRP4) autoantibodies. Some of the sera stained adult mouse neuromuscular junctions and reacted with native mini-agrin expressed in 293HEK cells.

Conclusions: The results provide evidence for agrin as a novel target protein for autoantibodies in patients with MG. Anti-agrin antibodies were always detected in combination with autoantibodies against MuSK, LRP4, or AChRs, indicating a high incidence of autoantibodies against several neuromuscular proteins in the agrin-positive MG cases.

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