Myasthenia Gravis

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Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies to the acetylcholine receptor

Myasthenia gravis is a disease characterized by fatigue weakness, ptosis and dysphagia.

A main differential diagnosis is with an inflammatory myopathy, which can have identical clinical features.
It is an autoimmune disease caused by generation of autoantibodies to the acetylcholine receptor located in the post-synaptic membrane of muscle motor end-plates. These antibodies prevent synaptic transmission by blocking the receptor sites.

Diagnosis can be made by giving a therapeutic trial of a short-acting anti-cholinesterase drug, which increases acetylcholine concentrations in the synaptic cleft and allows transmission. 

An important association with this condition is pathology of the thymus gland. About 25% of cases have a thymoma, others having thymic gland hyperplasia. Thymectomy may improve the myasthenia in a proportion of cases.

There is no diagnostic pathology seen by routine light microscopy in muscle biopsy.

Normally, acetyl choline is released from the axon terminal, diffuses into the space of the motor end plate and binds to acetyl choline receptors, causing muscle contraction.

In myaesthenia gravis antibodies to the receptor bind and prevent acetylcholine from activating muscle contraction.
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We give here simplified and accurate information about the disease

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Revised: 02-11-2014.