Acute Severe Animal Model of Anti-Muscle-Specific Kinase Myasthenia Combined Postsynaptic and Presynaptic Changes
ABSTRACT To determine the pathogenesis of anti-muscle-specific kinase (MuSK) myasthenia, a newly described severe form of myasthenia gravis associated with MuSK antibodies characterized by focal muscle weakness and wasting and absence of acetylcholine receptor antibodies, and to determine whether antibodies to MuSK, a crucial protein in the formation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) during development, can induce disease in the mature NMJ. Design, Setting, and
Lewis rats were immunized with a single injection of a newly discovered splicing variant of MuSK, MuSK 60, which has been demonstrated to be expressed primarily in the mature NMJ. Animals were assessed clinically, serologically, and by repetitive stimulation of the median nerve. Muscle tissue was examined immunohistochemically and by electron microscopy.
Animals immunized with 100 μg of MuSK 60 developed severe progressive weakness starting at day 16, with 100% mortality by day 27. The weakness was associated with high MuSK antibody titers, weight loss, axial muscle wasting, and decrementing compound muscle action potentials. Light and electron microscopy demonstrated fragmented NMJs with varying degrees of postsynaptic muscle end plate destruction along with abnormal nerve terminals, lack of registration between end plates and nerve terminals, local axon sprouting, and extrajunctional dispersion of cholinesterase activity.
These findings support the role of MuSK antibodies in the human disease, demonstrate the role of MuSK not only in the development of the NMJ but also in the maintenance of the mature synapse, and demonstrate involvement of this disease in both presynaptic and postsynaptic components of the NMJ.
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ABSTRACT: The β2-adrenergic receptor agonist, albuterol, has been reported beneficial in treating several forms of congenital myasthenia. Here, for the first time, we examined the potential benefit of albuterol in a mouse model of anti-Muscle Specific Kinase (MuSK) myasthenia gravis. Mice received 15 daily injections of IgG from anti-MuSK positive patients, which resulted in whole-body weakness. At neuromuscular junctions in the tibialis anterior and diaphragm muscles the autoantibodies caused loss of postsynaptic acetylcholine receptors, and reduced the amplitudes of the endplate potential and spontaneous miniature endplate potential in the diaphragm muscle. Treatment with albuterol (8 mg/kg/day) during the two-week anti-MuSK injection series reduced the degree of weakness and weight loss, compared to vehicle-treated mice. However, the compound muscle action potential recorded from the gastrocnemius muscle displayed a decremental response in anti-MuSK-injected mice whether treated with albuterol or vehicle. Ongoing albuterol treatment did not increase endplate potential amplitudes compared to vehicle-treated mice nor did it prevent the loss of acetylcholine receptors from motor endplates. On the other hand, albuterol treatment significantly reduced the degree of fragmentation of endplate acetylcholine receptor clusters and increased the extent to which the remaining receptor clusters were covered by synaptophysin-stained nerve terminals. The results provide the first evidence that short-term albuterol treatment can ameliorate weakness in a robust mouse model of anti-MuSK myasthenia gravis. The results also demonstrate that it is possible for albuterol treatment to reduce whole-body weakness without necessarily reversing myasthenic impairment to the structure and function of the neuromuscular junction.PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e87840. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0087840 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Purpose of review Antibodies to muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) characterize up to 5% of myasthenia gravis patients. This review focuses on the differences to clinical antiacetylcholine receptor-myasthenia gravis, and on the physiology and animal studies that elucidate the role of MuSK and help explain the clinical disease. Recent findings MuSK forms the core of a protein complex in the postsynaptic membrane at the neuromuscular junction. During development, MuSK tyrosine kinase signaling is vital for the formation and stabilization of the postsynaptic endplate; it is now clear that long-term homeostasis of mature neuromuscular junctions requires MuSK function. Patient MuSK-antibodies are largely of the IgG4 type and in cell culture block the assembly and activation of MuSK kinase. Active immunization and passive transfer mouse models show reduced postsynaptic acetylcholine receptors and disturbed synaptic alignment, diminished synaptic potentials and impaired muscle activation. MuSK myasthenia gravis patients display particular bulbar and respiratory muscle involvement, with a high rate of myasthenic crises. Plasma exchange and immunosuppression with corticosteroids and rituximab appear to be most effective in treating MuSK myasthenia gravis. In contrast, the cholinesterase inhibitors, such as pyridostigmine, appear less suitable for this form of myasthenia gravis. Summary MuSK myasthenia gravis has distinct clinical and pathophysiological features.Current Opinion in Neurology 08/2014; 27(5). DOI:10.1097/WCO.0000000000000136 · 5.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent studies demonstrate reduced motor-nerve function during autoimmune muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) myasthenia gravis (MG). To further understand the basis of motor-nerve dysfunction during MuSK-MG, we immunized female C57/B6 mice with purified rat MuSK ectodomain. Nerve-muscle preparations were dissected and neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) studied electrophysiologically, morphologically, and biochemically. While all mice produced antibodies to MuSK, only 40% developed respiratory muscle weakness. In vitro study of respiratory nerve-muscle preparations isolated from these affected mice revealed that 78% of NMJs produced endplate currents (EPCs) with significantly reduced quantal content, although potentiation and depression at 50 Hz remained qualitatively normal. EPC and mEPC amplitude variability indicated significantly reduced number of vesicle-release sites (active zones) and reduced probability of vesicle release. The readily releasable vesicle pool size and the frequency of large amplitude mEPCs also declined. The remaining NMJs had intermittent (4%) or complete (18%) failure of neurotransmitter release in response to 50 Hz nerve stimulation, presumably due to blocked action potential entry into the nerve terminal, which may arise from nerve terminal swelling and thinning. Since MuSK-MG-affected muscles do not express the AChR γ subunit, the observed prolongation of EPC decay time was not due to inactivity-induced expression of embryonic acetylcholine receptor, but rather to reduced catalytic activity of acetylcholinesterase. Muscle protein levels of MuSK did not change. These findings provide novel insight into the pathophysiology of autoimmune MuSK-MG.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e110571. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0110571 · 3.53 Impact Factor