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Metastatic Thymoma-Associated Myasthenia Gravis: Favorable Response to Steroid Pulse Therapy Plus Immunosuppressive Agent

Guoyan Qi, Peng Liu, Huimin Dong, Shanshan Gu, Hongxia Yang, Yinping Xue

(Myasthenia Gravis Treatment Center of Hebei Province, 1st Hospital of Shijiazhuang, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:1217-1223

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.902442

BACKGROUND: Our study retrospectively reviewed the therapeutic effect of steroid pulse therapy in combination with an immunosuppressive agent in myasthenia gravis (MG) patients with metastatic thymoma.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: MG patients with metastatic thymoma that underwent methylprednisolone pulse therapy plus cyclophosphamide were retrospectively analyzed. Patients initially received methylprednisolone pulse therapy followed by oral methylprednisolone. Cyclophosphamide was prescribed simultaneously at the beginning of treatment. Clinical outcomes, including therapeutic efficacy and adverse effects of MG and thymoma, were assessed.
RESULTS: Twelve patients were recruited. According to histological classification, 4 cases were type B2 thymoma, 3 were type B3, 2 were type B1, and 1 was type AB. After combined treatment for 15 days, both the thymoma and MG responded dramatically to high-dose methylprednisolone plus cyclophosphamide. The symptoms of MG were improved in all patients, with marked improvement in 6 patients and basic remission in 4. Interestingly, complete remission of thymoma was achieved in 5 patients and partial remission in 7 patients. Myasthenic crisis was observed in 1 patient and was relieved after intubation and ventilation. Adverse reactions were observed in 7 patients (58.3%), most commonly infections, and all were resolved without discontinuation of therapy. During the follow-up, all patients were stabilized except for 1 with pleural metastasis who received further treatment and another 1 who died from myasthenic crisis.
CONCLUSIONS: The present study in a series of MG patients with metastatic thymoma indicated that steroid pulse therapy in combination with immunosuppressive agents was an effective and well-tolerated for treatment of both metastatic thymoma and MG. Glucocorticoid pulse therapy plus immunosuppressive agents should therefore be considered in MG patients with metastatic thymoma.

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