To study the demographic, clinical and serologic characteristics of anti-MDA5-positive DM from two geographically and ethnically disparate inception cohorts in India. To identify the clinical and serological parameters at inception that could predict mortality among these individuals. Individuals with anti-MDA5 antibody-positive DM diagnosed between 2017 and 2020 from two centres in India were prospectively followed up. The clinical and serological characteristics at baseline and the treatment outcome at follow-up were assessed for this study. Anti-MDA5 antibody was positive in 25 (7.5%) out of the 330 individuals with myositis. These 25 (21 adults, 4 juvenile) patients were followed up for a median duration of 14 months. Among adults, a majority had cutaneous manifestations 21 (84%) followed by, arthritis 17 (80%), and interstitial lung disease 12 (ILD, 57.1%). Four (19%) had rapidly progressive ILD (RP-ILD). Eight (38%) presented as clinically amyopathic DM. Among cutaneous manifestations, majority (62%) had classic features (gottron's papules/sign, heliotrope rash) while 8 (38%) had cutaneous ulceration and 2 each had periorbital edema and tendon rupture. Eight (38%) were positive for anti-Ro-52 antibody. Out of 21 adults, 8 (38%) succumbed to the diseases. RP-ILD (n = 4; 19%), ulcerative gottron's (n = 5) and anti-Ro-52 (n = 8) were significantly associated with mortality (p < 0.05). Upon binary logistic regression, positive anti-Ro-52 antibody predicted mortality [HR 17.3 (95%CI 1.4-210, p = 0.025)]. All juvenile anti-MDA5-positive DMs had classic cutaneous features with 2 of them having ulcerative gottron's. None of the juvenile patients had ILD and everyone survived till the last follow-up. Indian adults with anti-MDA5 DM have high mortality. Rarer atypical features like tendon rupture or periorbital edema could assist in diagnosis. Ulcerative gottron's, positive anti-Ro 52 antibodies, and RP-ILD are valuable clinical-serological markers that portend poor prognosis.
Keywords: Amyopathic dermatomyositis; Anti-MDA5-positive; Anti-Rro-52 antibody; Biomarkers; India; Interstitial lung disease; Mortality; Muscle weakness; Prognostic factors.