Predictors of acquired lipodystrophy in juvenile-onset dermatomyositis and a gradient of severity

Medicine (Baltimore). 2008 Mar;87(2):70-86. doi: 10.1097/MD.0b013e31816bc604.


We describe the clinical features of 28 patients with juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) and 1 patient with adult-onset dermatomyositis (DM), all of whom developed lipodystrophy (LD) that could be categorized into 1 of 3 phenotypes, generalized, partial, or focal, based on the pattern of fat loss distribution. LD onset was often delayed, beginning a median of 4.6 years after diagnosis of DM. Calcinosis, muscle atrophy, joint contractures, and facial rash were DM disease features found to be associated with LD. Panniculitis was associated with focal lipoatrophy while the anti-p155 autoantibody, a newly described myositis-associated autoantibody, was more associated with generalized LD. Specific LD features such as acanthosis nigricans, hirsutism, fat redistribution, and steatosis/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis were frequent in patients with LD, in a gradient of frequency and severity among the 3 sub-phenotypes. Metabolic studies frequently revealed insulin resistance and hypertriglyceridemia in patients with generalized and partial LD. Regional fat loss from the thighs, with relative sparing of fat loss from the medial thighs, was more frequent in generalized than in partial LD and absent from DM patients without LD. Cytokine polymorphisms, the C3 nephritic factor, insulin receptor antibodies, and lamin mutations did not appear to play a pathogenic role in the development of LD in our patients. LD is an under-recognized sequela of JDM, and certain DM patients with a severe, prolonged clinical course and a high frequency of calcinosis appear to be at greater risk for the development of this complication. High-risk JDM patients should be screened for metabolic abnormalities, which are common in generalized and partial LD and result in much of the LD-associated morbidity. Further study is warranted to investigate the pathogenesis of acquired LD in patients with DM.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthosis Nigricans / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Contracture / etiology
  • Dermatomyositis / complications*
  • Exanthema / etiology
  • Facial Dermatoses / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Hirsutism / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / etiology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipodystrophy / classification
  • Lipodystrophy / etiology*
  • Male
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Panniculitis / etiology
  • Phenotype
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers