Objective: To determine the prevalence and clinical association of myositis specific antibodies in an unselected group of patients with juvenile dermatomyositis (DM).
Methods: The sera of 42 subjects, representing an unselected group of patients from a single center, with juvenile DM and 7 others with idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) were examined for the presence of myositis specific antibodies by immunodiffusion against calf thymus extract and immunoprecipitation with HeLa extract.
Results: Of the subjects with juvenile DM, only 2 had evidence of antibodies specific to myositis (anti-Mi2). Three other patients with juvenile DM had defined autoantibodies not usually considered to be specific to myositis. Two of the 3 subjects had anti-PM-Scl; both developed features of scleroderma after the juvenile DM remitted. The 5 subjects with defined autoantibodies did not differ clinically from the remainder of the subjects with the exception of the late development of scleroderma features in 2. Fourteen other subjects with juvenile DM had unidentified bands on immunoprecipitation, which may represent as yet undiscovered myositis specific antibodies. No myositis specific antibodies were detected in any of the 7 subjects with other IIM syndromes.
Conclusion: Based on our findings, we do not recommend routine clinical testing for these antibodies in children with typical juvenile DM. Further study of the unidentified bands seen in our subjects may lead to better understanding of the clinical groupings and etiopathogenesis of childhood myositis.