Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: current and future therapeutic options

Neurotherapeutics. 2008 Oct;5(4):548-57. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2008.08.008.


Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (notably polymyositis and dermatomyositis) are relatively uncommon diseases with a heterogeneous clinical presentation. Only a few randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have been performed, measures to assess outcome and response to treatment have to be validated. Initial treatment options of first choice are corticosteroids, although rarely tested in randomized, controlled trials. Unfortunately, not all patients respond to them and many develop undesirable side effects. Thus, second line agents or immunosuppressants given in combination with corticosteroids are used. For dermatomyositis/polymyositis, combination with azathioprine is most common. In case this combination is not sufficient or applicable, intravenous immunoglobulins are justified. Alternative or stronger immunosuppressants, such as cyclosporine A, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, or mycophenolate are also used. There are no defined guidelines or best treatment protocols agreed on internationally; therefore, the medical approach must be individualized based on the severity of clinical presentation, disease duration, presence of extramuscular features, and prior therapy and contraindications to particular agents. Approximately 25% of patients are nonresponders and continue to experience clinical relapses. Those are candidates for alternative treatment options and experimental therapies. New immunoselective therapies directed toward cytokine modulation, immune cell migration, or modification of certain immune subsets (B- and T-cells) are a promising avenue of research and clinical application. Possible future therapeutic options are presented and discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermatomyositis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Myositis / diagnosis
  • Myositis / drug therapy
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Myositis / therapy*
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / drug therapy
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / therapy
  • Polymyositis / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents