Objective: Polymyositis and dermatomyositis are idiopathic, inflammatory myopathies characterized by proximal muscle fatigue. Conventional immunosuppressive treatment gives a variable response. Biopsies from chronic patients display a low proportion type I and a high proportion of type II muscle fibres. This raised a suspicion that the low proportion of type I fibres might play a role in the muscle fatigue.
Aim: To investigate whether the muscle fibre attributes evident in chronic myositis are characteristic for the polymyositis and dermatomyosistis diseases themselves.
Methods: Muscle biopsies were obtained from thigh muscle from untreated patients (n = 18), treated responders (n = 14) and non-responders (n = 6) and from healthy controls (n = 11), respectively. For clinical evaluations, creatine kinase, functional index of myositis and cumulative dose of cortisone were established.
Results: Chronic patients had a lower proportion of type I fibres and a higher proportion of type II fibres compared to untreated myositis patients and healthy controls. Fibre cross-sectional area (CSA) did not differ between patients and healthy individuals but all women had a 20% smaller type II fibre CSA compared to men.
Conclusions: Untreated polymyositis and dermatomyositis patients and healthy controls have a different fibre type composition than chronic polymyositis and dermatomyositis patients. Fibre CSA did not differ between healthy controls or any of the patient groups. A low proportion of oxidative muscle fibres can therefore be excluded as a contributing factor causing muscle fatigue at disease onset and the gender difference should be taken into consideration when evaluating fibre CSA in myositis.
© 2010 The Authors. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging © 2010 Scandinavian Society of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine.