Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a T cell-dependent antibody-mediated autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Antibodies to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) destroy the AChR, thus leading to defective neuromuscular transmission of electrical impulse and to muscle weakness. This unit is a practical guide to the induction and evaluation of experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) in the mouse, the animal model for MG. Protocols are provided for the extraction and purification of AChR from the electric organs of Torpedo californica, or the electric ray. The purified receptor is used as an immunogen to induce autoimmunity to AChR, thus causing EAMG. The defect in neuromuscular transmission can also be measured quantitatively by electromyography. In addition, EAMG is frequently characterized by the presence of serum antibodies to AChR, which are measured by radioimmunoassay and by a marked antibody-mediated reduction in the number of muscle AChRs. AChR extracted from mouse muscle is used in measuring serum antibody levels and for quantifying muscle AChR content. Another hallmark of the disease is complement and IgG deposits located at the neuromuscular junction, which can be visualized by immunofluorescence techniques.
- Acetylcholine receptor
- Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Neuromuscular junction
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