Muscle involvement in myasthenia gravis: Expanding the clinical spectrum of Myasthenia-Myositis association from a large cohort of patients

Matteo Garibaldi, Laura Fionda, Fiammetta Vanoli, Luca Leonardi, Simona Loreti, Elisabetta Bucci, Antonella Di Pasquale, Stefania Morino, Elisa Vizzaccaro, Gioia Merlonghi, Marco Ceccanti, Matteo Lucchini, Massimiliano Mirabella, Francesca Andreetta, Elena Maria Pennisi, Antonio Petrucci, Marco Salvetti, Giovanni Antonini

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Myastenia-Inflammatory Myopathy (MG-IM) association has been described in less than 50 cases, as isolated reports or in few case series. In most cases, MG and IM onset occur simultaneously even if the overlapping clinical manifestations could lead to delay the diagnosis in the early stage of disease. In these cases, thymic pathology is present in more than 50% of cases. Pathological findings can be consistent of polymyositis (63%), dermatomyositis (25%) or granulomatosis (12%). Accurate clinical manifestations and severity of IM in MG, including muscle specific antibodies (MSA) and muscle MRI, have not been systematically investigated and focal or mild subclinical myositis have not been reported. We observed that focal myositis or asymptomatic CK elevation can also occur in MG. In this review we have also retrospectively re-analyzed the clinical, serological, pathological and muscle imaging data from 13 patients with MG- IM from our cohort of 441 MG patients (2,9%). Clinical onset occurred simultaneously in 10/13 patients, whereas in 2 patients the IM appeared later in MG disease course (range 10-14 years) and conversely in 1 patient MG symptoms occurred later in IM disease course (4 years). Median age at disease onset was 51 year (range 24-73 years) regardless of clinical onset (MG or IM). Median clinical follow-up was 88 months (range 31-237 months). IM was suspected by CK elevation in all patients (ranging 800-3000 UI/L at first detection) and non-fatigable muscle weakness unresponsive to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. All the patients presented mild to moderate MG symptoms. Three main categories of muscle involvement, sometimes overlapping, were recognizable: distal, proximal and subclinical myositits, leading to three main clinical groups (A,B,C) and two overlapping subgroups (A/B and B/C). Thymus pathology was present in 10/13 patients. Anti-AChR was detected in al all patients associated with anti-Titin and -RyR1 in those patients with thymoma. No MSA, nor MAA antibodies were detected. Muscle biopsy confirmed IM in all patients. In conclusion we redefined the clinical spectrum of muscle involvement in MG-IM association, which represent a continuum among 3 main clinical groups: distal, proximal and subclinical muscle involvement. Minimal muscle involvement and focal myositis could be underestimated among myasthenic patients and early aggressive immunotherapy could be required in focal group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102498
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Humans
  • Muscle Weakness/complications
  • Myasthenia Gravis/complications
  • Myositis/complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thymoma/complications


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