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July 1966

Immunological Changes Following Thymectomy in Myasthenia Gravis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Physiology, Columbia University, New York. Dr. Herrmann's address is the Division of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Arch Neurol. 1966;15(1):1-12. doi:10.1001/archneur.1966.00470130005001

Patients with myasthenia gravis show evidence of unusual immunological activity. Nastuk et al14 demonstrated that in such patients serum complement (C') activity frequently lies outside the extremes of the normal range. From these findings and from consideration of other factors, they proposed the hypothesis that myasthenia GRAVIS is a disease in which autoimmune mechanisms play an important role. Strong support for this hypothesis was provided at the same time by Strauss et al21 who demonstrated the presence of muscle binding, complement-fixing serum globulin in the serum of certain patients with myasthenia gravis. Simultaneously and independently, Simpson17 proposed that myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease. Simpson reached his position from a reevaluation of clinical and pathological evidence. Since these beginnings, many immunological aspects of myasthenia gravis have been reported in more recent publications.1,4,6-8,10,11,15,19

Well before any immunologic function of the thymus gland was demonstrated, thymectomy was performed