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Karger Publishers, Neuroepidemiology, 4(44), p. 221-231, 2015

DOI: 10.1159/000431036



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Geographical Distribution of Myasthenia Gravis in Northern Europe - Results from a Population-Based Study from Two Countries

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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<b><i>Objectives:</i></b> To compare the prevalence of myasthenia gravis (MG) subgroups based on immunological markers and clinical presentation in two geographically complete MG populations in northern Europe. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> This cross-sectional study included all living MG patients in Norway and a regional cohort from the Netherlands. Patients were identified using their hospital registration codes. Medical charts of subjects >16 years were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were clinical MG, a positive antibody test for acetylcholine receptor (AChR MG) or muscle-specific kinase (MuSK MG), or if seronegative MG, confirmed by an electrophysiological test. <b><i>Results:</i></b> 1,205 MG patients (534 Norwegians and 671 Dutch) fulfilled the criteria, giving a higher point prevalence in the Netherlands (167/million, 95% CI 155-180) than in Norway (138/million, 95% CI 126-150). In particular, rates of AChR MG (143 vs. 111/million), MuSK MG (6.5 vs. 0.5/million), and ocular phenotype (62 vs. 24/million) were higher in the Netherlands. <b><i>Conclusion:</i></b> Novel findings are an AChR MG geographical north-south gradient and a 2.6-fold more ocular MG patients in the Netherlands than in Norway. The MuSK MG latitudinal gradient supports the notion of a north-south gradient in Europe, with a higher prevalence in the south. The variation is probably explained by genetic differences between the populations, in addition to environmental interactions.