Exploring peripheral B-cell-helper T cell phenotypes in the blood of patients with Myasthenia gravis using mass cytometry (CyTOF)

Dr. Bettina Schreiner, University Hospital Zürich



Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a rare chronic neuromuscular disorder characterized by muscle weakness and muscle fatigue. MG results from an abnormal immune reaction where immune cells produce antibodies that inappropriately interrupt the transmission of nerve impulses to skeletal muscle cells. Long-term drug therapy is necessary for nearly all MG patients but often at the cost of side effects of immunosuppressive medications. The activity of antibody-producing cells and their necessary helpers (so called B-cell-helper T cells) may serve as potential biomarker for drug choice and monitoring of patients with MG and may be reflected in the blood. 

High-dimensional cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF) can measure up to 50 independent parameters on single cells simultaneously and together with automated, machine-learning analysis has the capacity to capture and explore the whole spectrum of B-cell-helper T cell phenotypes in the blood in a multi-dimensional fashion. We therefore propose to use this innovative technology platform for deep-profiling across even infrequent B-cell-helper T cell subsets in the blood that correlate with disease severity and clinical outcomes in patients with MG. Even if MG is a rare disease, this new workflow offers an entirely new strategy to identify biomarker candidates of the growing class of autoantibody-associated neurological diseases.