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

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


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • HLA-DQ Antigens*
  • Histocompatibility Testing / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Sweden
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • White People / genetics


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta