The Presence of Survivin on B Cells from Myasthenia Gravis Patients and the Potential of an Antibody to a Modified Survivin Peptide to Alleviate Weakness in an Animal Model

J Immunol. 2020 Oct 1;205(7):1743-1751. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2000482. Epub 2020 Aug 24.


Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease in which Abs target neuromuscular junction proteins, in particular the acetylcholine receptor. We previously identified the antiapoptotic protein survivin in the autoreactive B cells and plasma cells of MG patients. To further define the role of survivin in MG, we have assessed PBMCs from 29 patients with MG and 15 controls. We confirmed the increased expression of survivin in CD20+ lymphocytes from MG patients compared with controls. Furthermore, the CD20+ population of cells from MG patients contained a higher percentage of extracellular survivin compared with controls. The analysis of CD4+ cells showed an increased percentage of intracellular survivin in MG patients compared with controls, whereas the extracellular survivin CD4+ percentage was unaffected. In an experimental mouse model of MG, we assessed the therapeutic potential of an Ab raised to a modified survivin peptide but cross-reactive to survivin. Ab treatment reduced disease severity, lowered acetylcholine receptor-specific Abs, and decreased CD19+ survivin+ splenocytes. The ability to target survivin through Ab recognition of autoreactive cells offers the potential for a highly specific therapeutic agent for MG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD20 / metabolism
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology*
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Survivin / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Autoantigens
  • Peptides
  • Survivin