The effect of plasma from muscle-specific tyrosine kinase myasthenia patients on regenerating endplates.
ter Beek WP., Martínez-Martínez P., Losen M., de Baets MH., Wintzen AR., Verschuuren JJ., Niks EH., van Duinen SG., Vincent A., Molenaar PC.
Muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) is essential for clustering of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) at embryogenesis and likely also important for maintaining synaptic structure in adult muscle. In 5 to 7% of myasthenia gravis (MG) cases, the patients' blood contains antibodies to MuSK. To investigate the effect of MuSK-MG antibody on synapse regeneration, notexin was used to induce damage to the flexor digitorum brevis muscle. We administered aliquots of MuSK-MG patients' plasma to the flexor digitorum brevis twice daily for a period up to 21 days, and muscles were investigated ex vivo in contraction experiments. AChR levels were measured with (125)I-alpha-bungarotoxin, and endplates were studied with quantitative immunohistochemistry. In normal muscles and in 14-day regenerated muscles, MuSK plasma caused impairment of nerve stimulus-induced contraction in the presence of 0.35 and 0.5 mmol/L Ca(2+) with or without 100 to 400 nmol/L tubocurarine. Endplate size was decreased in regenerated muscles relative to controls; however, we did not observe such differences in muscle not treated with notexin. MuSK plasma had no effect on the amount and turnover rate of AChRs. Our results suggest that anti-MuSK antibodies influence the activity of MuSK molecules without reducing their number, thereby diminishing the size of the endplate and affecting the functioning of AChRs.