What is the role of anticholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (MG)?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018
  • Author: Abbas Jowkar, MD; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
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Answer

In the mild form of the disease, AChE inhibitors are used initially. These agents include pyridostigmine and neostigmine. Pyridostigmine is used for maintenance therapy. [6, 7] Neostigmine is generally used only when pyridostigmine is unavailable. Edrophonium is primarily but rarely used as a diagnostic tool to predict the response to longer-acting cholinesterase inhibitors (see Workup). [43]

AChE inhibitors have a wide variability in the effective dose, depending on the severity and current activity of the disease and the presence of other factors that influence cholinergic transmission (eg, certain antibiotics, antidysrhythmic medications, and impaired renal function). [7, 18] Most patients are able to titrate the dosage of their medication to control disease symptoms, but severe exacerbations can occur in patients with previously well-controlled disease. [7]


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