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Treating myasthenia gravis beyond the eye clinic.

Eye 2024 May 25
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is one of the most well characterised autoimmune disorders affecting the neuromuscular junction with autoantibodies targeting the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) complex. The vast majority of patients present with ocular symptoms including double vision and ptosis, but may progress on to develop generalised fatiguable muscle weakness. Severe involvement of the bulbar muscles can lead to dysphagia, dysarthria and breathing difficulties which can progress to myasthenic crisis needing ventilatory support. Given the predominant ocular onset of the disease, it is important that ophthalmologists are aware of the differential diagnosis, investigations and management including evolving therapies. When the disease remains localised to the extraocular muscles (ocular MG) IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies against the AChR (including clustered AChR) are present in nearly 50% of patients. In generalised MG this is seen in nearly 90% patients. Other antibodies include those against muscle specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) and lipoprotein receptor related protein 4 (LRP4). Even though decremental response on repetitive nerve stimulation is the most well recognised neurophysiological abnormality, single fibre electromyogram (SFEMG) in experienced hands is the most sensitive test which helps in the diagnosis. Initial treatment should be using cholinesterase inhibitors and then proceeding to immunosuppression using corticosteroids and steroid sparing drugs. Patients requiring bulbar muscle support may need rescue therapies including plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg). Newer therapeutic targets include those against the B lymphocytes, complement system, neonatal Fc receptors (FcRn) and various other elements of the immune system.

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