Diseases Home > Myasthenia Gravis Causes

Myasthenia gravis is a condition that can prevent muscles from contracting, so its causes can be linked to a defect in communication between nerve impulses and muscles. Research scientists know that the cause of myasthenia gravis is an attack from a person's own immune system. However, they don't know what causes the attack in the first place.

What Causes Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. The defect occurs when normal communication between the nerve and muscle is interrupted at the neuromuscular junction, which is the place where nerve cells connect with the muscles that they control.

Understanding Nerve Impulses to the Muscles

Normally when impulses travel down the nerve, the nerve endings release a neurotransmitter substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels through the neuromuscular junction and binds to acetylcholine receptors, which are activated and generate a muscle contraction.
In myasthenia gravis, antibodies block, alter, or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. This prevents the muscle contraction from occurring. Myasthenia gravis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system mistakenly turns against itself, attacking its own tissues. Myasthenia gravis research scientists are still trying to understand why the immune system attacks the acetylcholine receptors.


Myasthenia research scientists know that myasthenia gravis is caused by an attack from a person's own immune system. However, researchers are continuing to decipher why a person's immune system destroys the acetylcholine receptors in the first place.
(Click Myasthenia Gravis Research for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation




Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2019 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.