Background and purpose Anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibodies (ab) in the serum are detected in most patients with generalized myasthenia gravis (MG) and used as a diagnostic tool. The aim of this study was to analyse a possible association between anti-AChR-ab serum levels and clinical improvement of MG. Methods The Maastricht University Medical Center is a centre of expertise for the treatment of MG. Between 1997 and 2020, more than 4000 anti-AChR-ab blood samples were measured for clinical care using a quantitative radioimmunoassay technique. These results, in combination with clinical status obtained from the patients' electronic patient files, were retrospectively analysed by a single blinded clinician. Symptoms of MG were classified using the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA) scale. Results In total, 90 anti-AChR-ab-positive MG patients with 837 blood samples were included. The median follow-up time was 72 months. The majority of the included patients were women (61.1%), were on immunosuppressive drug therapy (88.9%), and underwent a thymectomy (54.4%). Multilevel logistic regression analysis showed a significantly inverse association between change in anti-AChR-ab level and the odds of MGFA improvement (per 10% decrease of anti-AChR-ab level: odds ratio 1.21, 95% confidence interval 1.12-1.31; p < 0.001). Conclusions A change in anti-AChR-ab serum level is associated with clinical status in patients with MG. Analyses of anti-AChR-ab are not only useful for diagnostics but also in follow-up of adult symptomatic patients with MG. The use of repetitive anti-AChR-ab serum levels might be valuable in long-term monitoring for clinical improvement in patients with MG, however, further research is required for specific recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1197
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • anti-acetylcholine receptor antibodies
  • clinical improvement
  • follow-up
  • myasthenia gravis
  • radioimmunoassay

Cite this