Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is an acquired, late-onset inflammatory myopathy, with both inflammatory and degenerative pathogenesis. Although idiopathic inflammatory myopathies may be associated with malignancies, IBM is generally not considered paraneoplastic. Many studies of malignancy in inflammatory myopathies did not include IBM patients. Indeed, IBM is often diagnosed only after around 5 years from onset, while paraneoplastic myositis is generally defined as the co-occurrence of malignancy and myopathy within 1 to 3 years of each other. Nevertheless, a significant association with large granular lymphocyte leukemia has been recently described in IBM, and there are reports of cancer-associated IBM. We review the pathogenic mechanisms supposed to be involved in IBM and outline the common mechanisms in IBM and malignancy, as well as the therapeutic perspectives. The terminally differentiated, CD8+ highly cytotoxic T cells expressing NK features are central in the pathogenesis of IBM and, paradoxically, play a role in some cancers as well. Interferon gamma plays a central role, mostly during the early stages of the disease. The secondary mitochondrial dysfunction, the autophagy and cell cycle dysregulation, and the crosstalk between metabolic and mitogenic pathways could be shared by IBM and cancer. There are intermingled subcellular mechanisms in IBM and neoplasia, and probably their co-existence is underestimated. The link between IBM and cancers deserves further interest, in order to search for efficient therapies in IBM and to improve muscle function, life quality, and survival in both diseases.
Keywords: antibodies to the cytosolic 5′-nucleotidase 1A (anti-cN1A); autophagy; cancer; inclusion body myositis; interferon γ; large granular lymphocytes leukemia (LGLL); lymphocyte exhaustion; lymphocyte senescence; mitochondria; paraneoplastic.