Background: The cardinal symptoms of auto-immune myasthenia gravis are fatigue and weakness. Endurance events such as marathon running would seem incompatible with this chronic disease. Many patients stop sport altogether. There is limited literature of patients with auto-immune myasthenia gravis undergoing regular endurance exercise.
Case presentation: We report the case of a 36-year-old female who began long-distance running whilst experiencing initial symptoms of myasthenia gravis. She was diagnosed with auto-immune myasthenia gravis and whilst advised to stop all sport, her way of fighting and living with this chronic and unpredictable disease was to continue running to maintain a healthy body and mind. Despite suffering from ocular, bulbar and localized limb fatigability, she managed to complete multiple marathons and achieve disease stability with cholinesterase inhibitors.
Conclusions: Marathon and half-marathon running lead to distinct changes in mediators of inflammation in an exercise-dose-dependent manner. Despite symptoms of weakness and fatigue in certain muscles in myasthenia gravis, physical exertion remains possible and may not worsen symptoms as demonstrated in this case and recent studies. The immunomodulatory role of exercise could be considered in this case however this hypothesis remains to be confirmed in future studies with quantitative data.
Keywords: Auto-immune disease; Endurance exercise; Health; Marathon; Myasthenia gravis.