Thymus involvement in early-onset myasthenia gravis

Abstract : It has long been established that the thymus plays a central role in autoimmune myasthenia gravis (MG) because of either thymoma or thymic hyperplasia of lymphoproliferative origin. In this review, we discuss thymic changes associated with thymic hyperplasia and their implications in the development of an autoimmune response against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR).The hyperplastic MG thymus displays all the characteristics of tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs): neoangiogenic processes with high endothelial venule and lymphatic vessel development, chemokine overexpression favoring peripheral cell recruitment, and ectopic germinal center development. As thymic epithelial cells or myoid cells express AChR, a specific antigen presentation can easily occur within the thymus in the presence of recruited peripheral cells, such as B cells and T follicular helper cells. How the thymus turns into a TLO is not known, but local inflammation seems mandatory. Interferon (IFN)‐β is overexpressed in MG thymus and could orchestrate thymic changes associated with MG. Knowledge about how IFN‐β is induced in MG thymus and why its expression is sustained even long after disease onset would be of interest in the future to better understand the etiological and physiopathological mechanisms involved in autoimmune MG.
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Mélanie Cron, Solène Maillard, José Villegas, Frédérique Truffault, Muriel Sudres, et al.. Thymus involvement in early-onset myasthenia gravis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Wiley, 2018, Myasthenia gravis and related disorders I, 1412 (1), pp.137-145. ⟨10.1111/nyas.13519⟩. ⟨hal-01789833⟩

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