Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Arthritis Research & Therapy





Inclusive Pages





BACKGROUND: Polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) are autoimmune muscle diseases, conventionally treated with high doses of glucocorticoids in combination with immunosuppressive drugs. Treatment is often dissatisfying, with persisting muscle impairment. We aimed to investigate molecular mechanisms that might contribute to the persisting muscle impairment despite immunosuppressive treatment in adult patients with PM or DM using gene expression profiling of repeated muscle biopsies.

METHODS: Paired skeletal muscle biopsies from six newly diagnosed adult patients with DM or PM taken before and after conventional immunosuppressive treatment were examined by gene expression microarray analysis. Selected genes that displayed changes in expression were analyzed by Western blot. Muscle biopsy sections were evaluated for inflammation, T lymphocytes (CD3), macrophages (CD68), major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression and fiber type composition.

RESULTS: After treatment, genes related to immune response and inflammation, including inflammasome pathways and interferon, were downregulated. This was confirmed at the protein level for AIM-2 and caspase-1 in the inflammasome pathway. Changes in genes involved in muscle tissue remodeling suggested a negative effect on muscle regeneration and growth. Gene markers for fast type II fibers were upregulated and fiber composition was switched towards type II fibers in response to treatment. The expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism was altered, suggesting a potential lipotoxic effect on muscles of the immunosuppressive treatment.

CONCLUSION: The anti-inflammatory effect of immunosuppressive treatment was combined with negative effects on genes involved in muscle tissue remodeling and lipid metabolism, suggesting a negative effect on recovery of muscle performance which may contribute to persisting muscle impairment in adult patients with DM and PM.


Reproduced with permission of BioMed Central Ltd.

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