Association between systemic lupus erythematosus and myasthenia gravis: A population-based National Study

Clin Immunol. 2024 Mar:260:109810. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2023.109810. Epub 2023 Nov 9.


Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and myasthenia gravis (MG) are autoimmune diseases. Previous case reports and case series suggest an association may exist between these diseases, as well as an increased risk of SLE after thymectomy for MG. We undertook this study to determine whether SLE and MG were associated in large cohorts.

Methods: We searched the IBM Watson Health Explorys platform and the Department of Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) database for diagnoses of SLE and MG. In addition, we examined subjects enrolled in the Lupus Family Registry and Repository (LFRR) as well as controls for a diagnosis of MG.

Results: Among 59,780,210 individuals captured in Explorys, there were 25,750 with MG and 65,370 with SLE. 370 subjects had both. Those with MG were >10 times more likely to have SLE than those without MG. Those with both diseases were more likely to be women, African American, and at a younger age than MG subjects without SLE. In addition, the MG patients who underwent thymectomy had an increased risk of SLE compared to MG patients who had not undergone thymectomy (OR 3.11, 95% CI: 2.12 to 4.55). Autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anemia and miscellaneous comorbidities such as chronic kidney disease were significantly more common in MG patients who developed SLE. In the MVP, SLE and MG were also significantly associated. Association of SLE and MG in a large SLE cohort with rigorous SLE classification confirmed the association of SLE with MG at a similar level.

Conclusion: While the number of patients with both MG and SLE is small, SLE and MG are strongly associated together in very large databases and a large SLE cohort.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Epidemiology; Genetic; Myasthenia gravis; Polymorphism; Systemic lupus erythematous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / complications
  • Male
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / diagnosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / epidemiology
  • Thymectomy