Background: We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for anti-muscle specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) antibody (Ab) in a large cohort of anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) Ab-negative generalized myasthenia gravis (MG), and also to investigate clinical contexts for the diagnosis of MuSK MG. Methods: A retrospective study of 160 patients with a clinical suspicion of AChR Ab-negative generalized MG was performed. The serum samples were tested for anti-clustered AChR Ab by cell-based assay (CBA), anti-MuSK Ab by ELISA, CBA and/or radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIPA). Clinical data were compared between anti-MuSK Ab-positive MG and double seronegative (AChR and MuSK) MG groups. Results: After excluding non-MG and clustered AChR Ab-positive patients, we identified 89 patients as a cohort of AChR Ab-negative generalized MG. Anti-MuSK Ab was positive by ELISA in 22 (24.7%) patients. While CBA identified five additional anti-MuSK Ab-positive patients, the results of ELISA were mostly consistent with CBA and RIPA with Cohen’s kappa of 0.80 and 0.90, respectively (p < 0.001). The most frequent differential diagnosis was motor neuron disease particularly of bulbar onset which showed remarkably overlapping clinical and electrophysiological features with MuSK MG at presentation. Conclusion: While confirming the highest sensitivity of CBA for detecting anti-MuSK Ab, our results highlight the clinical pitfalls in making a diagnosis of MuSK MG and may support a diagnostic utility of MuSK-ELISA in clinical practice.
- Anti-MuSK antibody
- Cell-based assay
- Radioimmunoprecipitation assay
- Seronegative myasthenia gravis