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Effect of tacrolimus on soluble costimulatory molecules in patients with refractory myasthenia gravis

      Highlights

      • Soluble costimulatory molecules participate in the regulation of immune response in myasthenia gravis (MG)
      • Measuring soluble costimulable molecules levels may be relevant for prognosis and monitoring immunotherapy on MG
      • The signal of IL-2–IL-2R pathway plays a role in the pathogenesis of MG
      • Tacrolimus is effective in the treatment of myasthenia gravis

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To investigate the expression and possible role of soluble costimulatory molecules in the treatment of refractory myasthenia gravis.

      Methods

      Thirty-two patients with refractory myasthenia gravis were enrolled into this study and given tacrolimus 3 mg/day. At the beginning of treatment and 12 months follow-up period, clinical data were collected and recorded. The clinical classification of myasthenia gravis Foundation (MGFA) was performed. The MGFA-quantitative myasthenia gravis score (MGFA-QMGS), manual muscle test (MMT), MG activity of daily living (MG-ADL) and the activity of daily living (MG-ADL), the 15-item myasthenia gravis quality of life (MG QOL-15) and the dose change of prednisone were used to evaluate the efficacy. The expression levels of soluble costimulatory molecules and their ligands (sPD-1/sPD-L1, sICOS/sICOSL, sCD40/sCD40L), soluble CD25 and IL-2 in serum were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

      Results

      We observed that oral administration of 3 mg tacrolimus daily for 1 year can significantly improve the clinical symptoms of patients with refractory myasthenia gravis, which is characterized by a significant reduction in clinical scores, such as QMG, MMT, ADL, MGQOL-15, and a reduction daily oral prednisolone (PSL) dose (P < 0.0001).We also found that the levels of plasma sPD-1, sCD40, IL-2 in refractory MG patients increased significantly, and those decreased significantly 12 months after tacrolimus treatment (P < 0.05). The level of sCD25 was negatively correlated with clinical severity scores (P < 0.05). After tacrolimus treatment, the level of sPD-L1 increased although there was no significant difference.

      Conclusion

      Tacrolimus could relieve the symptoms of refractory MG and significantly decrease the levels of plasma sPD-1, sICOSL, sCD40, sCD25 and IL-2. Soluble costimulatory molecules might be potential biomarkers for MG and tacrolimus treatment.

      Keywords

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