Critical reexamination of the thymus immunization model of myasthenia gravis

Anne Murphy, Daniel B. Drachman, S. Satya‐Murti, Alan Pestronk, Joseph C. Eggleston

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4 Scopus citations


Previous studies have described an experimental model of myasthenia gravis (MG) produced by immunizing animals with thymus extracts. In view of the hypothesis that the autoimmune process in MG may be initiated within the thymus itself, we have reexamined this model using presently available methods to evaluate its resemblance to MG. We immunized Lewis rats with extracts of rat thymus in Freund's adjuvant, as originally described by G. Goldstein. Five procedures were used to test for myasthenic characteristics: (1) repetitive nerve stimulation; (2) recording of miniature endplate potentials; (3) assays of anti‐ACh receptor antibodies in serum; (4) determination of ACh receptors at neuromuscular junctions by [125|] α‐bungarotoxin binding; and (5) evaluation of the histology of the thymus gland. Our results showed that the thymus‐immunized animals did not demonstrate abnormalitities in any of these parameters. We conclude that immunization of rats with thymus extracts, as described, failed to produce a myasthenia‐like condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-297
Number of pages5
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1980


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