Anti-MDA5-positive dermatomyositis and remission in a single referral centre population

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Objective To describe a single-centre North American adult cohort of anti-MDA5-positive dermatomyositis patients, with emphasis on drug-free long-term remission. Methods We conducted an observational retrospective cohort study of anti-MDA5-positive DM patients. All consented patients seen in the Johns Hopkins Myositis Centre from 2003-2020 with suspected muscle disease were routinely screened for myositis-specific autoantibodies. All sera were screened for anti-MDA5 autoantibodies by line blot; positives were verified by enzyme-linked immunoassay. Patients whose sera were anti-MDA5 positive by both assays (n=52) were followed longitudinally. If clinical status was unavailable, structured telephone interviews were conducted. Clinical remission was defined as being off all immunosuppression >1 year while remaining asymptomatic. Results 38/52 (73%) of the patients were women with a median age at disease-onset of 47 (IQR 40-54). Twenty-five of the patients (48%) were White, 16 (30%) were Black and 3 (6%) were Asian. Most patients (42/52, 80%) had interstitial lung disease, defined by inflammatory or fibrotic changes on high resolution computed tomography (HRCT). 18/52 (35%) of patients required pulse-dose methylprednisolone, 4/52 (8%) experienced spontaneous pneumothorax/ pneumomediastinum, 6/52 (12%) required intubation, and 5/52 (10%) died. Over longitudinal follow-up (median 3.5 years), 9 (18%) patients achieved clinical remission. The median time from symptom onset to clinical remission was 4 years, and the median duration of sustained remission was 3.5 years (range 1.4-7.8). No demographic or disease characteristics were significantly associated with remission. Conclusion In this single centre, tertiary referral population of anti-MDA5-positive dermatomyositis, ~20% of patients experienced long-term drug-free remission after a median disease duration of 4 years. No clinical or biologic factors were associated with clinical remission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and experimental rheumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • MDA protein
  • dermatomyositis
  • interstitial lung disease
  • remission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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