Thymomatous myasthenia gravis: novel association with HLA DQB1*05:01 and strengthened evidence of high clinical and serological severity
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The relative prevalence of myasthenia gravis (MG) subtypes is changing, and their differential features and association with HLA class II alleles are not completely understood.
Age at onset, presence/absence of autoantibodies (Ab) and thymoma were retrospectively considered in 230 adult Italian patients. Clinical severity, assessed by MGFA scale, and the highest Ab titer were recorded. Furthermore, we performed low/high resolution typing of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 alleles to detect associations of these loci with MG subtypes.
There were two peaks of incidence: under 41 years of age, with female preponderance, and over 60 years, with higher male prevalence. The former group decreased and the latter increased significantly when comparing onset period 2008–2015 to 2000–2007. Thymomatous (TMG) patients showed a higher prevalence of severe phenotype and significantly higher anti-AChR Ab titer than non-thymomatous (NTMG) patients. Among the latter, those with onset after 60 years of age (LO-NTMG) displayed significantly higher Ab titers but lower MGFA grade compared to early-onset patients (< 41 years; EO-NTMG). Significant associations were found between HLA DQB1*05:01 and TMG patients and between DQB1*05:02 and DRB1*16 alleles and LO-NTMG with anti-AChR Ab.
Two distinct cutoffs (< 41 and > 60 years) conveniently define EO-NTMG and LO-NTMG, with different characteristics. LO-NTMG is the most frequent disease subtype, with an increasing incidence. TMG patients reach higher clinical severity and higher antibody titers than NTMG patients. Moreover, TMG and LO-NTMG with anti-AChR Ab differ in their HLA-DQ association, providing further evidence that these two forms may have different etiologic mechanisms.
KeywordsMyasthenia gravis Disease subgroups Late-onset Early onset Thymoma HLA association
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Conflicts of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
The study protocol was approved by the Independent Ethic Committee of PTV and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.
All participating subjects signed an informed consent.
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