Do titin and cytokine antibodies in MG patients predict thymoma or thymoma recurrence?
Buckley C., Newsom-Davis J., Willcox N., Vincent A.
BACKGROUND: Patients with MG often have other autoantibodies in addition to those against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR). It has been suggested that antibodies to the muscle protein titin may be diagnostic of a thymoma, but they have also been found in patients with late-onset MG. Antibodies to certain cytokines have also been detected in patients with MG and thymoma, and it is not clear whether these antibodies could be more useful clinically. The authors measured antibodies against titin and the cytokines interferon alpha (IFNalpha) and interleukin 12 (IL12) in patients with MG and thymoma or thymoma recurrence, and in patients with MG but without thymoma presenting before (early-onset MG) or after (late-onset MG) 40 years of age. METHOD: Levels of titin, IFNalpha, and IL12 antibodies were determined by radioimmunoassay in 191 patients with MG and 82 controls. RESULTS: As previously reported, titin antibodies were uncommon in patients with early-onset MG. However, in patients with late-onset MG, titin antibodies had similar prevalence and levels to those in patients with MG and thymoma, although the antibodies were uncommon in patients between 40 and 60 years of age presenting without a tumor. By contrast, cytokine antibodies were more common in patients with thymoma than in patients without thymoma, and cytokine antibodies typically increased substantially if the thymoma recurred. CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of titin antibodies has limited use in predicting the presence of a tumor, unless the patient is less than 60 years of age, but measurement of IFNalpha and IL12 antibodies may be helpful in identifying patients with a thymoma recurrence, particularly when mediastinal imaging is equivocal.