Correlation of clinicoserologic and pathologic classifications of inflammatory myopathies: study of 178 cases and guidelines for diagnosis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2013 Jan;92(1):15-24. doi: 10.1097/MD.0b013e31827ebba1.


The idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) are acquired muscle diseases characterized by muscle weakness and inflammation on muscle biopsy. Clinicoserologic classifications do not take muscle histology into account to distinguish the subsets of IIM. Our objective was to determine the pathologic features of each serologic subset of IIM and to correlate muscle biopsy results with the clinicoserologic classification defined by Troyanov et al, and with the final diagnoses. We retrospectively studied a cohort of 178 patients with clinicopathologic features suggestive of IIM with the exclusion of inclusion body myositis. At the end of follow-up, 156 of 178 cases were still categorized as IIM: pure dermatomyositis, n = 44; pure polymyositis, n = 14; overlap myositis, n = 68; necrotizing autoimmune myopathy, n = 8; cancer-associated myositis, n = 18; and unclassified IIM, n = 4. The diagnosis of IIM was ruled out in the 22 remaining cases. Pathologic dermatomyositis was the most frequent histologic picture in all serologic subsets of IIM, with the exception of patients with anti-Ku or anti-SRP autoantibodies, suggesting that it supports the histologic diagnosis of pure dermatomyositis, but also myositis of connective tissue diseases and cancer-associated myositis. Unspecified myositis was the second most frequent histologic pattern. It frequently correlated with overlap myositis, especially with anti-Ku or anti-PM-Scl autoantibodies. Pathologic polymyositis was rare and more frequently correlated with myositis mimickers than true polymyositis. The current study shows that clinicoserologic and pathologic data are complementary and must be taken into account when classifying patients with IIM patients. We propose guidelines for diagnosis according to both clinicoserologic and pathologic classifications, to be used in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myositis / blood
  • Myositis / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Autoantibodies