Myositis-specific autoantibodies: an important tool to support diagnosis of myositis

J Intern Med. 2016 Jul;280(1):8-23. doi: 10.1111/joim.12451. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


The idiopathic inflammatory myopathies are characterized by muscle weakness, skin disease and internal organ involvement. Autoimmunity is known to have a role in myositis pathogenesis, and myositis-specific autoantibodies, targeting important intracellular proteins, are regarded as key biomarkers aiding in the diagnosis of patients. In recent years, a number of novel myositis autoantibodies including anti-TIF1, anti-NXP2, anti-MDA5, anti-SAE, anti-HMGCR and anti-cN1A have been identified in both adult and juvenile patients. These autoantibodies correlate with distinct clinical manifestations and importantly are found in inclusion body, statin-induced, clinically amyopathic and juvenile groups of myositis patients, previously believed to be mainly autoantibody negative. In this review, we will describe the main myositis-specific and myositis-associated autoantibodies and their frequencies and clinical associations across different ages and ethnic groups. We will also discuss preliminary studies investigating correlations between specific myositis autoantibody titres and clinical markers of disease course, collectively demonstrating the utility of myositis autoantibodies as both diagnostic and prognostic markers of disease.

Keywords: Autoantibodies; Autoimmunity; Dermatomyositis; Myositis; Polymyositis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Dermatomyositis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / immunology
  • Ligases / immunology
  • Myositis / diagnosis*
  • Myositis / immunology*
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Necrosis


  • Autoantibodies
  • Ligases