Racial differences in myasthenia gravis in Alabama

Muscle Nerve. 2009 Mar;39(3):328-32. doi: 10.1002/mus.21191.


Demographic, clinical, and laboratory features were compared in 235 white and African-American (AA) patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Neuromuscular Disease Clinic from May 2003 to January 2008. Seventy nine percent of patients were white. Acetylcholine receptor antibody was positive in 71% of white patients and in 59% of AA. In patients with seronegative generalized MG, the rate of positive muscle-specific tyrosine kinase antibody (MuSK-Ab) was significantly higher in AA than it was in whites (50% in AA vs. 17% in whites). Ocular MG was seronegative in 75% of AA patients. In AA, MG occurred earlier and more frequently in females, whereas, in whites, disease onset was later and more common in males. Another significant difference was a higher percentage of abnormality on repetitive nerve stimulation in AA. There was also a tendency for more severe forms of MG in AA. There are racial differences in MG between whites and AA in Alabama. These racial differences highlight the need to study biological factors in the pathogenesis of MG and to assess different approaches in diagnosis and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Alabama / epidemiology
  • Black or African American*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Edrophonium
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myasthenia Gravis / diagnosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis / epidemiology*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / physiopathology*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / immunology
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • White People*


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Edrophonium
  • MUSK protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases