Pharmacological management of dermatomyositis

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Oct;10(10):1109-1118. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2017.1353910. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Dermatomyositis is a rare heterogeneous systemic autoimmune disease with multiple organ involvement which can result in significant disability and mortality. Despite the lack of placebo-controlled trials, glucocorticoids are considered to be the mainstay of initial management. Treatment strategies are mainly based on uncontrolled studies, evidence based guidelines for treatments do not exist. Areas covered: This review provides an overview of the currently available pharmacological treatments in the field of dermatomyositis including conventional immunosuppressants, biologics and topical agents. The role of antibodies in different treatment responses of dermatomyositis related clinicoserological syndromes is also discussed. A PubMed search was performed in order to find relevant literature for this review. Expert commentary: Early recognition and intervention is essential to ameliorate disease outcome. Determination of antibodies provide a useful key in diagnosis, clinical manifestations, malignancy, prognosis, and treatment response and may lead to wider acceptance of personalized medicine. Corticosteroids with adjunctive steroid-sparing immunosuppressive therapies are recommended to treat disease activity, prevent mortality, and reduce long-term disability. Combinations of second-line therapies or newer third-line therapies are used in severe, refractory, or corticosteroid-dependent diseases. Further research is required to assess the role of new therapies.

Keywords: Antibodies; anti-MDA5; anti-Mi2; anti-TIF1; antisynthetase syndrome; azathioprine; cyclophosphamide; cyclosporine-A; dermatomyositis; intravenous immunoglobuline; methotrexate; mycophenolate mofetyl; rituximab; tacrolimus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Biological Products / administration & dosage
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Dermatomyositis / diagnosis
  • Dermatomyositis / drug therapy*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Precision Medicine
  • Prognosis


  • Antibodies
  • Biological Products
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents