We have investigated whether plasma exchange in myasthenia gravis synergises with additional immunosuppressive drug therapy (azathioprine, cyclophosphamide or cytosine arabinoside). Serum anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibody titres were followed over 28 days after a course of PE in 20 patients, of whom 17 were taking 20-80 mg prednisone on alternate days. No significant difference was observed in mean anti-AChR antibody recovery following plasma exchange with and without additional immunosuppressive therapy. In paired studies where patients served as their own controls, mean anti-AChR recovery with and without azathioprine or cytosine arabinoside showed no significant differences. Anti-AChR recovery rates after large and small plasma exchange courses also did not differ significantly. Prolonged administration of azathioprine reduced antibody titres independently of plasma exchange. These results fail to demonstrate significant synergy between plasma exchange and the additional immunosuppressive drugs used, and suggest that the effects of plasma exchange were transient.
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