Purpose of review: This review will provide the clinician with an update on the pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and therapy for skin disease in dermatomyositis. Recent insights into the role for interferon in skin disease as well as the development and validation of quantitative tools to measure skin disease activity allow the possibility that, for the first time, dermatomyositis skin disease can serve as a valid outcome for clinical trials of targeted therapies. Also, the increasing appreciation of the heterogeneity of skin disease in dermatomyositis has already provided evidence that clinical subtypes of disease can provide important prognostic and diagnostic information to the clinician.
Recent findings: It is becoming apparent that the skin inflammation alone has implications for systemic and malignancy risk in dermatomyositis patients, and that there may be several pathogenic similarities between muscle and skin inflammation in dermatomyositis. Recent data on therapy for calcinosis cutis highlights that more prospective studies are needed to evaluate how best to manage all manifestations of skin inflammation in dermatomyositis.
Summary: A more careful description and classification of skin disease in dermatomyositis may allow the clinician to predict more accurately which patients will be at higher risk for cancer, lung disease, or muscle inflammation. In addition, given the similarities in perturbed gene expression between skin and muscle tissue, it is likely that analysis of a more readily evaluable target organ such as skin might shed light on mechanisms of disease propagation throughout the body.