Functional defect in regulatory T cells in myasthenia gravis

Muthusamy Thiruppathi, Julie Rowin, Qin Li Jiang, Jian Rong Sheng, Bellur S. Prabhakar, Matthew N. Meriggioli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) is a transcription factor necessary for the function of regulatory T cells (Treg cells). Treg cells maintain immune homeostasis and self-tolerance and play an important role in the prevention of autoimmune disease. Here, we discuss the role of Treg cells in the pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis (MG) and review evidence indicating that a significant defect in Treg cell in vitro suppressive function exists in MG patients, without an alteration in circulating frequency. This functional defect is associated with a reduced expression of key functional molecules, such as FOXP3 on isolated Treg cells, and appears to be more pronounced in immunosuppression-naive MG patients. In vitro administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) enhanced the suppressive function of Treg cells and upregulated FOXP3 expression. These findings indicate a clinically relevant Treg cell-intrinsic defect in immune regulation in MG that may reveal a novel therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • FOXP3
  • GM-CSF
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional defect in regulatory T cells in myasthenia gravis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this