Clinical and experimental features of MuSK antibody positive MG in Japan


Mitsuhiro Ohta, Department of Medical Biochemistry, Kobe Pharmaceutical University, Motoyamakita, Higashinada-ku, Kobe 658–8558, Japan (tel.: +81 78 441 7557; fax: +81 78 441 7559; e-mail:


We investigated the presence of antibodies (Abs) against muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) in Japanese myasthenia gravis (MG) patients. MuSK Abs were found in 23 (27%) of 85 generalized seronegative MG (SNMG) patients but not in any of the ocular MG patients. MuSK Ab-positive patients were characterized as having female dominance (M:F, 5:18), age range at onset 18 to 72 (median 45) years old, and prominent oculobulbar symptoms (100%) with neck (57%) or respiratory (35%) muscle weakness. Limb muscle weakness was comparatively less severe (52%), thymoma absent. Most patients had good responses to simple plasma exchange and steroid therapy. MuSK IgG from all 18 patients was exclusively the IgG 4 subclass and bound mainly with the MuSK Ig 1–2 domain. Serial studies of 12 individuals showed a close correlation between the variation in MuSK Ab titers and MG clinical severity (P = 0.01 by Kruskal–Wallis). MuSK Ab titers were sharply decreased in patients who had a good response to early steroid therapy or simple plasma exchange, but there was no change, or a rapid increase on exacerbation after thymectomy. Measurement of MuSK Ab titers aids in the diagnosis of MG and the monitoring of clinical courses after treatment.