Inclusion body myositis: clinical and pathological boundaries

Ann Neurol. 1996 Oct;40(4):581-6. doi: 10.1002/ana.410400407.


Inclusion body myositis, polymyositis, and dermatomyositis are three distinct categories of inflammatory myopathy. Some authorities commented on the selective early weakness of the volar forearm muscles, quadriceps, and ankle dorsiflexors in inclusion body myositis. The most important feature distinguishing inclusion body myositis from the other two inflammatory myopathies is the lack of responsiveness to immunosuppressive treatment. Although most patients with inclusion body myositis have characteristic muscle biopsy findings, some cannot be distinguished histologically early from polymyositis. Predicting responsiveness to immunosuppressive medications, independent of muscle histology, would be valuable to clinicians. We retrospectively reviewed the pattern of weakness and other clinical features of 46 patients newly diagnosed with either inclusion body myositis, polymyositis, or dermatomyositis. Asymmetrical muscle weakness with prominent wrist flexor, finger flexor, and knee extensor involvement was specific for inclusion body myositis and unresponsive polymyositis. Male sex, lower creatine kinase levels, slower rate of progression, and peripheral neuropathy were also more common in inclusion body myositis and unresponsive polymyositis than in responsive polymyositis and dermatomyositis patients. Repeat muscle biopsy in 2 patients in the unresponsive polymyositis group demonstrated histological features of inclusion body myositis. We suspect that patients with clinical features of inclusion body myositis but lacking histological confirmation may nonetheless have inclusion body myositis. Our study supports the recently proposed criteria for definite and possible inclusion body myositis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Azathioprine / administration & dosage
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Dermatomyositis / diagnosis
  • Dermatomyositis / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Muscle Weakness / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / diagnosis*
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / drug therapy
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / pathology
  • Polymyositis / diagnosis
  • Polymyositis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Azathioprine
  • Methotrexate