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Familial aggregation of myasthenia gravis in affected families: a population-based study

Authors Liu FC, Kuo CF, See LC, Tsai HI, Yu HP

Received 17 July 2017

Accepted for publication 26 September 2017

Published 2 November 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 527—535


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Fu-Chao Liu,1,2 Chang-Fu Kuo,2–5 Lai-Chu See,4,6 Hsin-I Tsai,1,2,7 Huang-Ping Yu1,2

1Department of Anesthesiology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 2College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, 3Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 4Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, 5Office for Big Data Research, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 6Biostatistics Core Laboratory, Molecular Medicine Research Center, 7Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, Republic of China

Introduction: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is clinically heterogeneous and can be life-threatening if bulbar or respiratory muscles are involved. However, relative contributions of genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental factors to MG susceptibility remain unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the familial aggregation and heritability of MG and the relative risks (RRs) of other autoimmune diseases in the relatives of patients with MG.
Methods: A population-based family study using the Taiwan National Health Insurance (NHI) Database was conducted. Participants included all individuals (N=23,422,955) who were actively registered in the NHI Database in 2013, 15,066 of whom had at least one first-degree relative with MG. We identified 8,638 parent–child relationships, 3,279 with an affected offspring, 3,134 with affected siblings, and 26 with affected twins. Prevalence and RRs of MG and other autoimmune diseases in the relatives of patients as well as the relative contributions of heritability, shared, and nonshared environmental factors to MG susceptibility were measured.
Results: RRs (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for MG were 17.85 (8.71–36.56) for patients’ siblings, 5.33 (2.79–10.18) for parents, 5.82 (3.03–11.16) for offspring, and 1.42 (0.20–10.10) for spouses without genetic similarities. RRs (95% CIs) in individuals with a first-degree relative with MG were 2.18 (1.53–3.12) for systemic lupus erythematosus, 1.73 (1.09–2.74) for primary Sjögren’s syndrome, 1.90 (1.66–2.18) for autoimmune thyroid disease, and 1.68 (1.22–2.30) for rheumatoid arthritis. Accountability for the phenotypic variance of MG was 82.1% for familial transmission and 17.9% for nonshared environmental factors.
Conclusion: Individual risks of MG and other autoimmune diseases are increased in the relatives of patients with MG. Familial transmission of MG was estimated to be 82.1%.

Keywords: myasthenia gravis, familial risk, population based family study

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