Extraocular muscles have fundamentally distinct properties that make them selectively vulnerable to certain disorders

Neuromuscul Disord. 2005 Jan;15(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2004.10.002. Epub 2004 Nov 26.


While skeletal muscles generally perform specific limited roles, extraocular muscles (EOMs) have to be responsive over a wider dynamic range. As a result, EOMs have fundamentally distinct structural, functional, biochemical and immunological properties compared to other skeletal muscles. While these properties enable high fatigue resistance and the rapid and precise control of extraocular motility, they might also explain why EOMs are selectively involved in certain disorders, such as chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO), myasthenia gravis and Graves' ophthalmopathy. This review first gives an overview of the novel myofibre classification in EOMs and then focuses on those properties that might explain why ophthalmoplegia should be so prominent in these disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Graves Disease* / metabolism
  • Graves Disease* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / classification
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / metabolism
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / physiopathology
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Oculomotor Muscles / innervation
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology*
  • Ophthalmoplegia, Chronic Progressive External* / metabolism
  • Ophthalmoplegia, Chronic Progressive External* / physiopathology


  • Myosins