We describe here a new congenital myasthenic syndrome associated with a kinetic abnormality of the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) channel. The propositus had poor suck and cry after birth. Subsequently, she had intermittent ocular symptoms and fatigued abnormally on exertion. At age 9 years, significant weakness was detected only in the frontalis, levator palpebrae, and neck flexor muscles. Electromyography showed no decrement in limb muscles but single‐fiber examination of the facial muscles was consistent with a neuromuscular transmission defect. The ocular symptoms responded partially to pyridostigmine, but the abnormal fatigability did not. Tests for anti‐AChR antibodies were negative. A younger sister had elements of the same disease. An intercostal muscle specimen was obtained from the propositus at age 9 years for endplate studies. The quantal content of the endplate potential was normal. Miniature endplate currents were abnormally large and their decay time constant was abnormally short. AChR channel properties were studied by analysis of acetylcholine‐induced current noise. The mean single‐channel conductance was increased 1.7‐fold and the mean channel open time was 30% shorter than normal. The number of AChR per endplate was normal. Electron microscopy of most endplates showed no abnormality, but a few were degenerating or simplified. The channel abnormality may stem from a point mutation in an AChR subunit affecting a single amino acid residue lining the pore of the AChR channel. The mechanism by which the physiological abnormality produces clinical symptoms is not known, but possible explanations are considered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology