MuSK Antibody(+) Versus AChR Antibody(+) Myasthenia Gravis Clinical, Neurophysiological and Morphological Aspects
Abstract: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that causes fluctuating muscle weakness. MG may be divided into an ocular form and a generalized form based on the involved muscles. Treatment differs between these different MG forms. The majority (80%) of patients with generalized MG are seropositive for antibodies against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR-Ab). Recently a new antibody was detected against muscle specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) in about 40% of patients who are AChR-Ab seronegative. A few patients with MuSK-Abs have muscular atrophies, as well as electrophysiological myopathy.In this thesis we have characterized MuSK-Ab seropositive [MuSK(+)] patients using clinical parameters, including health-related quality of life (hrQoL), neurophysiology and muscle morphology, and compared them to patients with and without AChR-Abs. The question concerned which factors contribute to their muscle weakness. Additionally, we wanted to determine if single-fiber electromyography (SFEMG) in a limb muscle has any predictive value for generalization of ocular MG. Our results suggest that MuSK(+) patients more often have a myopathic electromyography pattern, although this pattern is found also in other immunological subtypes of MG. The myopathic pattern may be associated with the frequently found mitochondrial abnormalities. However, disturbed neuromuscular transmission is the primary cause of muscle weakness in the majority of MuSK(+) patients, as well as in AChR-Ab seropositive patients. The disease-specific hrQoL MG questionnaire was successfully validated into Swedish and these scores correlated with disturbed neuromuscular transmission in a proximal arm muscle. Abnormal SFEMG findings occur also in muscles outside of the facial area in ocular MG, although this is not predictive of subsequent generalization. MuSK (+) patients have little or no beneficial effect of acetylcholine esterase inhibitors (AChEI). On the contrary AChEI may produce profound adverse effects. We present the hypothesis that this effect of AChEI is due to abnormal receptor morphology in MuSK(+) patients.
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