Congenital myasthenic syndromes: Difficulties in the diagnosis, course and prognosis, and therapy - The French national Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome network experience
Eymard B., Stojkovic T., Sternberg D., Richard P., Nicole S., Fournier E., Béhin A., Laforêt P., Servais L., Romero N., Fardeau M., Hantaï D.
Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) are a heterogeneous group of disorders caused by genetic defects affecting neuromuscular transmission and leading to muscle weakness accentuated by exertion. Three different aspects have been investigated by members of the national French CMS Networ: the difficulties in making a proper diagnosis; the course and long-term prognosis; and the response to therapy, especially for CMS that do not respond to cholinesterase inhibitors. CMS diagnosis is late in most cases because of confusion with other entities such as: congenital myopathies, due to the frequent presentation in patients of myopathies such as permanent muscle weakness, atrophy and scoliosis, and the abnormalities of internal structure, diameter and distribution of fibers (type I predominance, type II atrophy) seen on biopsy; seronegative autoimmune myasthenia gravis, when CMS is of late onset; and metabolic myopathy, with the presence of lipidosis in muscle. The long-term prognosis of CMS was studied in a series of 79 patients recruited with the following gene mutations: CHRNA; CHRNE; DOK7; COLQ; RAPSN; AGRN; and MUSK. Disease-course patterns (progressive worsening, exacerbation, stability, improvement) could be variable throughout life in a given patient. DOK7 patients had the most severe disease course with progressive worsening: of the eight wheelchair-bound and ventilated patients, six had mutations of this gene. Pregnancy was a frequent cause of exacerbation. Anticholinesterase agents are the first-line therapy for CMS patients, except for cases of slow-channel CMS, COLQ and DOK7. In our experience, 3,4-DAP was a useful complement for several patients harboring CMS with AChR loss or RAPSN gene mutations. Ephedrine was given to 18 patients (eight DOK7, five COLQ, four AGRN and one RAPSN). Tolerability was good. Therapeutic responses were encouraging even in the most severely affected patients, particularly with DOK7 and COLQ. Salbutamol was a good alternative in one patient who was allergic to ephedrine. © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS.