Major histocompatibility complex class I antigen expression, immunolocalization of interferon subtypes, and T cell-mediated cytotoxicity in myopathies

Hum Pathol. 1989 Mar;20(3):224-31. doi: 10.1016/0046-8177(89)90128-7.


Major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) expression on target cells is a prerequisite for antigen-specific T cell-mediated cytotoxicity (TCMC). Enhanced MHC-I expression has been attributed to interferons (IFNs) released from inflammatory cells. In previous studies, we found evidence of TCMC (invasion of non-necrotic muscle fibers by cytotoxic T cells) in polymyositis (PM) and in inclusion body myositis (IBM). We occasionally found evidence of TCMC in Duchenne dystrophy (DD) but not in dermatomyositis (DM). This study examines the relationships between TCMC, MHC-I expression, and IFN immunoreactivity in these diseases and normal controls. In controls, reactivity for MHC-I was confined to blood vessels. In all diseases, regenerating fibers expressed MHC-I. In IBM, PM and DD, all nonnecrotic muscle fibers invaded by CD8+ cells and some adjacent fibers expressed MHC-I. In DM, myriad muscle fibers expressed MHC-I but none were invaded by CD8+ cells. In all diseases, only a few mononuclear cells and no muscle fiber surfaces were immunoreactive for IFNs. We conclude that MHC-I expression on muscle fibers is necessary but not sufficient for TCMC in myopathy; that the biological significance of increased MHC-I expression in DM remains undefined; and that currently available and appropriately controlled immunocytochemical methods show no relationship between increased MHC-I expression on muscle fibers and local IFN synthesis by mononuclear cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interferons / analysis*
  • Muscles / immunology*
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / immunology*
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / immunology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / pathology
  • Myositis / immunology
  • Myositis / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Interferons
  • Alkaline Phosphatase