Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune antibody-mediated disorder of neuromuscular synaptic transmission. The clinical hallmark of MG consists of fluctuating fatigability and weakness affecting ocular, bulbar and (proximal) limb skeletal muscle groups. MG may either occur as an autoimmune disease with distinct immunogenetic characteristics or as a paraneoplastic syndrome associated with tumors of the thymus. Impairment of central thymic and peripheral self-tolerance mechanisms in both cases is thought to favor an autoimmune CD4+ T cell-mediated B cell activation and synthesis of pathogenic high-affinity autoantibodies of either the IgG1 and 3 or IgG4 subclass. These autoantibodies bind to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AchR) itself, or muscle-specific tyrosine-kinase (MuSK), lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 (LRP4) and agrin involved in clustering of AchRs within the postsynaptic membrane and structural maintenance of the neuromuscular synapse. This results in disturbance of neuromuscular transmission and thus clinical manifestation of the disease. Emphasizing evidence from clinical trials, we provide an updated overview on immunopathogenesis, and derived current and future treatment strategies for MG divided into: (a) symptomatic treatments facilitating neuromuscular transmission, (b) antibody-depleting treatments, and (c) immunotherapeutic treatment strategies.
Published: 26 August 2016
Journal: Journal of Neurology, volume 263, issue 8, pages 1473–1494