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Antibodies to acetylcholine receptor (AChR) are found in 85% of patients with myasthenia gravis (seropositive MG [SPMG]) and are thought to be pathogenic; but in 15% of MG patients, the standard immunoprecipitation test for anti-AChR is negative (seronegative MG [SNMG]). Here, we used a novel approach, fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, to measure binding of SPMG and SNMG IgG antibodies to rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines that express human adult (TE671-epsilon) or fetal (TE671-gamma) AChR, and to human embryonic kidney (HEK) fibroblasts that express adult human AChR (HEK-AChR). We found that whereas most SPMG antibodies bind to all three cell lines, IgG from 8 of 15 SNMG sera/plasmas bind to the surface of both TE671 cell lines but not to HEK-AChR cells. These results indicate that SNMG antibodies bind to a muscle surface antigen that is not the AChR, which strongly supports previous studies that suggest that SNMG should be considered a distinct subtype of MG.


Journal article


Ann Neurol

Publication Date





504 - 510


Adult, Antibody Specificity, Autoantibodies, Fetus, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Kidney, Muscle Neoplasms, Myasthenia Gravis, Receptors, Cholinergic, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Embryonal, Transfection, Tumor Cells, Cultured