Effect of complement and its regulation on myasthenia gravis pathogenesis

Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2008 Jan;4(1):43-52. doi: 10.1586/1744666X.4.1.43.


Myasthenia gravis (MG) is primarily caused by antibodies directed towards the skeletal muscle acetylcholine receptor, leading to muscle weakness. Although these antibodies may induce compromise of neuromuscular transmission by blocking acetylcholine receptor function or antigenic modulation, the predominant mechanism of injury to the neuromuscular junction is complement-mediated lysis of the postsynaptic membrane. The vast majority of data to support the role of complement derives from experimentally acquired MG (EAMG). In this article, we review studies that demonstrate the central role of complement in EAMG and MG pathogenesis along with the emerging role of complement in T- and B-cell function, as well as the potential for complement inhibitor-based therapy to treat human MG.