Remission of severe myasthenia gravis after autologous stem cell transplantation.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Ann Clin Transl Neurol


washington; swedish; swedish neuro


OBJECTIVE: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoantibody-mediated neuromuscular junction disorder involving the acetylcholine receptors on the motor endplate. The safety and response to high-dose chemotherapy (HDIT) and autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) were assessed in a patient with severe refractory MG.

METHODS: As part of a pilot study of HDIT/HCT for patients with treatment-resistant autoimmune neurological disorders, a patient with severe refractory MG underwent treatment. After mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells with rituximab, prednisone, and G-CSF, the patient had HDIT consisting of carmustine, etoposide, cytarabine, melphalan, and rabbit antithymocyte globulin, followed by autologous HCT. The effect of treatment on the autoantibody to the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) was assessed.

RESULTS: The patient had been diagnosed with AChR antibody-positive MG 14 years before HDIT/HCT and had failed thymectomy, therapeutic plasma exchange, and multiple immunomodulatory agents. The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) clinical classification was IVb before HDIT/HCT. She tolerated HDIT/HCT well and started to improve clinically within days of treatment. At both 1 and 2 years after HDIT/HCT, patients remained symptom-free. After HDIT/HCT, AChR-binding autoantibodies persisted, and the relative frequency of immune cell subtypes shifted.

INTERPRETATION: HDIT/HCT induced a complete response of disease activity in a patient with severe refractory MG. This response may suggest that a cell-mediated etiology may be a significant contributing factor in refractory MG cases. A phase 2 clinical trial is warranted to establish if HDIT/HCT can be an effective therapy for severe refractory MG and to gain a further understanding of disease pathogenesis.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)