Cytokine expression profile in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1996 Mar;55(3):342-7. doi: 10.1097/00005072-199603000-00009.


Cytokines have been shown to be potent inducers of major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) class I and II as well as of cell adhesion molecules in muscle tissue cultures, indicating that cytokines may play a role in mediating muscle fiber damage in inflammatory myopathies. We found in 21 cases of autoimmune myositis various amounts of inflammatory cells expressing interleukin (IL)-1 alpha and -beta, IL-2, IL-4, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) -alpha and -beta, and interferon (IFN)-gamma and its receptor. Muscle fibers displayed enhanced expression of IL-1 alpha and -beta, IL-2, and TNF-alpha. Upregulation of cytokines was strongest at sites of cellular infiltration typical for the respective myositis subtype. There was no correlation between the cytokine expression and the grade of inflammation. To a lesser extent, cytokines were also present in Duchenne muscular dystrophy expressed by muscle fibers positive for TNF-alpha and by phagocytic mononuclear cells. Expression of cytokines by the muscle fiber may enable the muscle fiber to induce and mediate the process of autoimmunization and antigen-expression by itself without primary presence of inflammatory cells. Cytokine-expressing muscle fibers may enhance the cytolytic potential of cytotoxic cells and the muscle fiber may serve as source and target.

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / pathology*
  • Polymyositis / pathology


  • Cytokines