Current concepts in the idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: Polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and related disorders

P. H. Plotz, M. Dalakas, R. L. Leff, L. A. Love, F. W. Miller, M. E. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Idiopathic inflammatory myopathy, a category encompassing polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and a number of other disorders, is very uncommon, but has been the focus of intense study in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for the past several years. We describe the clinical picture, stressing the need for biopsy to ensure correct diagnosis. It is especially important to recognize the treatment-resistant variant, inclusion body myositis. The extraskeletal manifestations, particularly the cardiopulmonary, oropharyngeal, gastrointestinal, and endocrine involvement, are described. The cardiopulmonary involvement, especially interstitial lung disease, arrhythmias, and cardiac failure, may dominate the clinical picture. The known causes are varied, and include drugs, toxins, and some infectious agents, however, in most cases a cause cannot yet be identified. Circumstantial evidence suggests that picornaviruses may initiate some cases in humans, and a very similar disease in mice caused by a picornavirus is activity under study. Studies of autoantibodies and cellular immune function support a central role for disordered immunity in the pathogenesis. The myositis-specific autoantibodies, especially those directed at certain enzymes important in protein synthesis (the amino-acyl-tranfer RNA synthetases), are found in a clinically distinct subset of patients. Although most patients respond initially to corticosteroids, cytotoxic drugs are sometimes added when steroid toxicity or refractoriness develops. We describe several newer therapies under study for such cases and outline future directions in research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Current concepts in the idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: Polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and related disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this