The results of a multicentre trial were analysed to evaluate the efficacy of immunoadsorption therapy for severe generalised myasthenia gravis. Twenty patients with myasthenia gravis who were concurrently receiving high dose prednisolone and azathioprine therapy were treated with an affinity-type adsorbent, using tryptophan-linked polyvinyl alcohol gel (IM-TR), according to a standardised treatment protocol. The 20 patients received five adsorption treatments within a period of 10 days. In 11, pronounced improvement of myasthenic weakness was seen and long-term remission was maintained. The treatment was especially effective in patients with thymic hyperplasia. Circulating acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibodies were reduced by about 60% by treating one plasma volume. There was no difference in the rate of removal of the AChR antibodies between patients with thymic hyperplasia and patients with thymoma. No serious complications occurred during 100 procedures. It was concluded that the immunoadsorption therapy with IM-TR is useful in controlling symptoms in patients with severe myasthenia gravis who are otherwise unresponsive.
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