Anti-melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA5) dermatomyositis: A concise review with an emphasis on distinctive clinical features

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 Apr;78(4):776-785. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.12.010. Epub 2017 Dec 9.


Melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA5) is a recently described autoantigen target in a subset of patients with dermatomyositis. Anti-MDA5 dermatomyositis is characterized by a unique mucocutaneous and systemic phenotype that includes cutaneous and oral ulceration, painful palmar papules, alopecia, panniculitis, arthritis, a lower incidence of myositis, and, importantly, an elevated risk of interstitial lung disease with a potentially fatal course. Because the clinical features can differ substantially from those typically observed in cutaneous dermatomyositis, the diagnosis is often overlooked, which might negatively affect patient outcomes. This review aims to familiarize the clinician with the distinctive clinical features of anti-MDA5 dermatomyositis in order to enhance its recognition and to facilitate an appropriate screening and management strategy.

Keywords: MDA5; dermatomyositis; interstitial lung disease; melanoma differentiation–associated gene 5; myositis; palmar papule; ulceration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Dermatomyositis / complications
  • Dermatomyositis / diagnosis*
  • Dermatomyositis / genetics*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-Induced Helicase, IFIH1 / genetics*
  • Interferon-Induced Helicase, IFIH1 / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • IFIH1 protein, human
  • Interferon-Induced Helicase, IFIH1