Muscle specific kinase autoimmune myasthenia gravis in children: a case series

Neuromuscul Disord. 2013 Nov;23(11):874-82. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2013.07.010. Epub 2013 Aug 7.


We report clinical, neurophysiological and autoantibody profiles of 9 children presenting with fatigable weakness and MuSK autoantibody seropositivity. Eight were female, 3 were black; median onset age was 8 years. Diplopia or bulbar dysfunction were common presenting symptoms. Half of the patients experienced moderate to severe weakness of bulbar, facial and respiratory muscles (including exacerbations requiring mechanical ventilation). Muscle AChR antibodies were detected transiently in 2 patients but no other autoantibodies were detected. Clinical response to treatment was variable and incomplete. No thymic abnormalities were noted by CT or pathologically (3 underwent thymectomy). Electromyographic (EMG) abnormalities (decrement of compound muscle action potential amplitude during slow repetitive nerve stimulation and variation in individual motor unit potentials) were limited to clinically weak muscles. Single fiber EMG demonstrated abnormalities in an asymptomatic muscle in the single patient studied. As in adults, MuSK autoimmune MG presents more commonly in females, and weakness preferentially affects bulbar, facial and respiratory muscles. Morbidity is significant and responses to standard therapies are variable and incomplete. Neurophysiological confirmation is more challenging in children because testing of weak muscles (cranial nerve-innervated and respiratory) may require moderate sedation and monitoring.

Keywords: Autoimmune myasthenia gravis; Children; Electromyography; Muscle-specific kinase autoantibodies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Myasthenia Gravis / diagnosis*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / immunology*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantibodies
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • MUSK protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases