Control of breathing in patients with myasthenia gravis.

A. Spinelli, G. Marconi, M. Gorini, A. Pizzi, G. Scano

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Control of breathing has seldom been investigated in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG). We evaluated lung volumes and respiratory muscle strength by measuring maximal inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory (MEP) pressures in 12 patients with moderate generalized (IIb) MG before and after an orally administered therapeutic dose (120 mg) of Mestinon, and in 11 age- and sex-matched normal subjects. Breathing pattern, mouth occlusion pressure (P0.1), and surface electromyographic activity of the diaphragm (EMGd) and intercostal (EMGint) muscles were evaluated during both room-air breathing and hypercapnic rebreathing. Before Mestinon, patients exhibited a slight decrease in VC, and normal TLC and FEV1/VC ratio. Compared with the normal control group, patients also exhibited respiratory muscle weakness (marked decrease in MIP and MEP; p less than 0.001 for both), and more rapid and shallower breathing (RSB): lower tidal volume (VT), inspiratory time (TI), expiratory time (TE), and greater respiratory frequency (f); mean inspiratory flow (VT/TI) and P0.1 were slightly supernormal, whereas both EMGd and EMGint were significantly higher in patients. During hypercapnic rebreathing, ventilation (VE) (p less than 0.001), VT (p less than 0.001), VT/TI, (p less than 0.003), P0.1 (p less than 0.003), and EMGd (p less than 0.001) response slopes to increasing PCO2 were found to be lower, whereas EMGint response slope was normal. At 60 mm Hg of PCO2 in the two groups the difference in terms of breathing pattern, P0.1, and EMGd were similar to that observed during room-air breathing. After Mestinon, VC (p less than 0.005), MIP (p less than 0.02), and MEP (p less than 0.01) significantly increased, whereas spontaneous breathing remained unchanged.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1366
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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