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Third-party-funded project

thymus - autoimmunity

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

In the years 1999-2002, the group could show that tumors of the thymus (thymomas) which associated with an autoimmune muscle weakness (Myasthenia gravis, MG) generate and export autoreactive CD4+ T-cells into the peripheral blood and peripheral lymphoid organs. Thus, thymomas may initiate autoimmune diseases by skewing of the peripheral T-cell repertoire. Thymomas that do not generate or export mature CD4+ T-cells are not associated with autoimmunity. Moreover, thymomas produce reduced amounts of T-cells with regulatory properties. Using comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) and microsatellite analyses, we could show that different histological thymoma subtypes exhibit different recurrent genetic aberrations. Among the different subtypes, some are very homogenous, while others show a more complex pattern with respect to genetic aberrations. These findings are of diagnostic relevance, especially in the differential diagnosis between primary thymic tumors and tumors of the lung and head and neck region metastatic to the mediastinum. These analyses were carried out in cooperation with the Department of Neurology (Prof. Gold., Prof. Toyka) and the Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (Dr. Krein, Prof. Elert) of the University of Würzburg.

Key words:
    myasthenia gravis

Projekt period: from 01.1998 to 12.2002

Funding institution:
Landeshaushalt Wissenschaftsministerium