Objectives: Some juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) patients have a disease course which is refractory to multiple drug treatments. Prolonged disease activity is associated with increased mortality and morbidity. TNF-alpha has been identified in high levels in JDM patients who have a long disease course and calcinosis. We assessed the response of five refractory JDM patients to the anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody, infliximab.
Methods: For all five patients intravenous infliximab was initially given at a dose of 3 mg/kg. Further doses were then given at weeks 2, 6 and every 8 weeks thereafter. The dose and frequency were tailored in accordance with clinical response. Clinical and laboratory data were collected prospectively.
Results: We report results between 8 and 30 months after starting infliximab. Improvements were seen in all five patients as shown by positive changes in physician visual analogue scale (VAS), Childhood Myositis Assessment Score (CMAS), Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire (CHAQ), joint range of movement and, in some, regression of calcinosis and skin signs. There were no major side effects observed with addition of infliximab to the therapeutic regime.
Conclusions: Major clinical benefit was demonstrated after the initiation of infliximab in all five cases of refractory JDM.