Polymyositis-dermatomyositis and infections

Autoimmunity. 2006 May;39(3):191-6. doi: 10.1080/08916930600622348.


In genetically predisposed individuals, viruses, bacteria, or parasitic infectious agents are suspected to induce autoimmunity and/or to exacerbate the disease once the self-tolerance is broken. Although direct evidence for this association is still lacking, numerous data from animal models as well as from humans support the hypothesis of a direct contribution of pathogens to the induction of several autoimmune diseases. This review focused on the possible role of infectious agents as triggers of autoimmunity in polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM). Epidemiological studies, clinical and experimental findings that support the hypothesis of infection-induced PM and DM are summarized and discussed. In addition, immune response abnormalities and immunosuppressive medications may be responsible for the high percentage of infectious complications in PM and DM patients. In this review, the increased risk of developing infections in these patients is also underlined and published data are reported.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Dermatomyositis / complications
  • Dermatomyositis / etiology*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications*
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Infections / etiology
  • Infections / immunology
  • Polymyositis / complications
  • Polymyositis / etiology*
  • Polymyositis / immunology
  • Self Tolerance / immunology


  • Autoantibodies