Background: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder mediated by antibodies against the acethylcholine receptor (AchR) of the neuromuscular junction in the majority of patients. Methods: Here, we examined IgG antibodies against the type 1 nuclear antigen of Epstein-Barr virus (EBNA-1) in the sera of 158 patients with MG compared to 184 healthy controls. Results: Although serum concentration in the sera was not different, high anti-EBNA-1 IgG titers (above 90th percentile of the normal values) were more common in the patients (26.6 vs. 16.3%, P=0.024). In addition, high EBNA-1 IgG levels occurred more frequently amongst the 94 patients with early-onset myasthenia gravis (EOMG, 30.8%) as compared to the 64 patients with late-onset disease (LOMG, 14.1%) (P=0.021). Using multiple logistic regression, high serum concentration of the anti-EBNA-1 IgG antibodies was significantly associated with EOMG (OR: 3.17, P=0.027), even after adjustment for sex, presence/absence of anti-AchR antibodies and presence/absence of anti-Titin antibodies. Out of 39 patients with EOMG, who underwent thymectomy, 18 patients (46%) had thymoma, 6 had thymic hyperplasia (15%), and 15 patients had thymic atrophy (39%); there was no difference comparing EBNA-1 antibody titers in the sera. As no correlation was found between the titers of anti-AchR, anti-Titin, and EBNA-1 antibodies, a dysregulated heterogeneous B-cell response was unlikely to be responsible for the elevated levels of EBV-associated antibody in patients. Conclusions: In summary, our data suggest that high levels of EBNA-1 antibodies are more common in MG compared to healthy controls and are especially associated with EOMG.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology