Agrin and LRP4 antibodies as new biomarkers of myasthenia gravis

Min Yan, Guang Lin Xing, Wen Cheng Xiong, Lin Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a common disorder that affects the neuromuscular junction. It is caused by antibodies against acetylcholine receptor and muscle-specific tyrosine kinase; however, some MG patients do not have antibodies against either of the proteins. Recent studies have revealed antibodies against agrin and its receptor LRP4—both critical for neuromuscular junction formation and maintenance—in MG patients from various populations. Results from experimental autoimmune MG animal models indicate that anti-LRP4 antibodies are causal to MG. Clinical studies have begun to reveal the significance of the new biomarkers. With their identification, MG appears to be a complex disease entity that can be classified into different subtypes with different etiology, each with unique symptoms. Future systematic studies of large cohorts of well-diagnosed MG patients are needed to determine whether each subtype of patients would respond to different therapeutic strategies. Results should contribute to the goal of precision medicine for MG patients. Anti-agrin and anti-LRP4 antibodies are also detectable in some patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease; however, whether they are a cause or response to the disorder remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-135
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • LRP4
  • MuSK
  • agrin
  • myasthenia gravis
  • neuromuscular junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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