Myasthenia gravis — autoantibody characteristics and their implications for therapy

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Abstract |

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder caused by autoantibodies that target the neuromuscular junction, leading to muscle weakness and fatigability. Currently available treatments for the disease include symptomatic pharmacological treatment, immunomodulatory drugs, plasma exchange, thymectomy and supportive therapies. Different autoantibody patterns and clinical manifestations characterize different subgroups of the disease: early-onset MG, late-onset MG, thymoma MG, muscle-specific kinase MG, low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 MG, seronegative MG, and ocular MG. These subtypes differ in terms of clinical characteristics, disease pathogenesis, prognosis and response to therapies. Patients would, therefore, benefit from treatment that is tailored to their disease subgroup, as well as other possible disease biomarkers, such as antibodies against cytoplasmic muscle proteins. Here, we discuss the different MG subtypes, the sensitivity and specificity of the various antibodies involved in MG for distinguishing between these subtypes, and the value of antibody assays in guiding optimal therapy. An understanding of these elements should be useful in determining how to adapt existing therapies to the requirements of each patient.

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