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Title: Clinical and functional studies of autoimmune disorders of neuromuscular transmission
Author: Spillane, J.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Inherited and acquired disorders of the neuromuscular junction are an important cause of muscle weakness and fatigability. In this thesis I focus on the autoimmune disorders of neuromuscular transmission. Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is the most common of these diseases and is typically caused by antibodies against the post-synaptic acetylcholine receptor. Lambert Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS) is a pre-synaptic disorder typically caused by antibodies against voltage gated calcium channels (VGCC). With regard to LEMS, my main aim was to gain a more complete understanding of the pathomechanisms of the disease. To date, the direct effect of LEMS IgG on presynaptic neurotransmitter release had not been investigated in detail. I examined how LEMS IgG affects neurotransmitter release by imaging action potential dependent vesicle exocytosis using a fluorescent dye. I found that LEMS IgG significantly inhibited the rate of synaptic vesicle release but this effect was lost in synapses from a Cacna1a knockout mouse. These data provide direct evidence that LEMS is caused by impaired neurotransmitter release due to an effect on P/Q-type VGCCs. With regard to MG, I studied the long-term outcome of patients with thymomatous and non-thymomatous MG after thymectomy and found that in general the outcome was favourable in the majority of patients with 34% of patients achieving complete stable remission. I also reviewed the long-term outcome of patients after a severe exacerbation of MG requiring ITU admission. Despite the significant mortality associated with severe exacerbations of MG, it was found that specialised neuro-intensive care was associated with a good long-term prognosis in the majority of patients. There were no significant differences in outcome in those with early or late onset MG. Overall the data presented in this thesis provide new insights into the pathomechanisms of LEMS IgG and provide new information regarding the long-term outcome of patients with MG.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available