Polymyositis/dermatomyositis and interstitial lung disease: a new therapeutic approach with T-cell-specific immunosuppressants

Autoimmunity. 2005 Aug;38(5):383-92. doi: 10.1080/08916930500124023.


Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common complication of polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM), and accounts for a significant proportion of their morbidity and mortality because of the resistance to therapeutic agents including corticosteroids. Its pathogenic mechanism is not known, but several studies have provided findings implicating that T-cells, especially activated CD8+ cells, may play essential roles, and thus could be therapeutic targets in this disease. To test this hypothesis, we began clinical investigation of the efficacy of T-cell-specific immunosuppressants, cyclosporine (CsA) and FK506, in PM/DM patients with ILD. In our retrospective nationwide multi-center study compiling a total of 53 patients, a combination of CsA and corticosteroids resulted in favorable early and long-term outcome in the majority of patients except for DM patients with acute ILD. In this subset, those who received the combination as an initial therapy had better survival than those who initially received corticosteroids alone. FK506 has a similar mode of action but is up to 100-fold more potent than CsA in vitro, and has been used in more refractory ILD cases. We next reviewed 5 PM/DM patients with ILD who failed on various immunosuppressants including CsA and were subsequently treated with FK506 in our hospital, and found that 3 improved promptly, 1 gradually and steadily, and another case responded slowly after prednisolone dose was increased. None developed adverse effects. In summary, these T-cell targeted therapies have a potential to be the cornerstone of the treatment for ILD in PM/DM patients. The combination therapy with CsA and corticosteroids may be efficacious especially when used early. FK506 may be advantageous even in refractory cases to CsA. These findings indicate that further investigation is warranted. Currently, prospective investigation of FK506 is underway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatomyositis / drug therapy*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / drug therapy*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / immunology*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Polymyositis / drug therapy*
  • Polymyositis / immunology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*