Leflunomide-Induced Immune-Mediated Necrotizing Myopathy in a Patient With Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Case Report

J Investig Med High Impact Case Rep. 2023 Jan-Dec:11:23247096221150636. doi: 10.1177/23247096221150636.


Immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM) is a subtype of inflammatory myopathy that is characterized by proximal muscle weakness, markedly elevated serum creatine kinase, myopathic electromyographic findings, and muscle biopsies revealing necrosis or regeneration with sparse inflammatory infiltrate. IMNM tends to be idiopathic but has been associated with certain medications. This supports the possibility for other pharmacotherapies to induce IMNM-particularly leflunomide. Leflunomide is used in the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and has been shown to induce autoimmune diseases-including autoimmune hepatitis and polymyositis. After an extensive review of history and workup of muscle weakness, we conclude that leflunomide induced an IMNM in our patient. As this is the first case of leflunomide-induced IMNM, it is important for clinicians to suspect an inflammatory myopathy in the setting of myositis while on leflunomide.

Keywords: adverse effect; immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy; inflammatory myopathy; leflunomide; myositis-specific autoantibody; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / complications
  • Humans
  • Leflunomide / adverse effects
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myositis* / chemically induced
  • Myositis* / complications


  • Leflunomide