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Medicine (Baltimore). 1993 Jul;72(4):225-35.

The treatment of inclusion body myositis: a retrospective review and a randomized, prospective trial of immunosuppressive therapy.

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Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.


We have sought to examine the response to immunosuppressive therapeutic intervention in inclusion body myositis (IBM) in a retrospective review of prior responses to therapy and in an open, randomized crossover trial. We collected information on the response to prior therapy on 25 patients, and for prospective therapy on 11 of these patients. All met criteria for a definite idiopathic inflammatory myopathy and had biopsy-proven IBM. Clinical and laboratory results were assessed by interviews of patients and by chart review in the retrospective trial. Manual muscle strength was assessed by a single trained observer; the patients' activities of daily living were assessed by questionnaire; and serum tests of muscle-associated enzymes were measured in the prospective trial. In the retrospective review, prednisone appeared to have been of some, albeit modest, clinical benefit in 10 of 25 (40%) patients. Other therapies, primarily azathioprine and methotrexate, also appeared to have halted the progression of weakness in 8 of 35 trials (23%). In the prospective study, combination therapy of oral azathioprine and methotrexate and a biweekly infusion of high-dose intravenous methotrexate with leucovorin rescue were given for 3 to 6 months in an open, crossover design. Both the oral and the intravenous regimens were clinically effective in some patients. There was clinical improvement in 3 trials, stabilization in 11 trials, and worsening in 5 trials, out of a total of 19 completed (22 intended) trials. The presence of active inflammation at entry into the prospective therapeutic protocol, either directly observed on muscle biopsy or indirectly indicated by serum creatine kinase level, may have been associated with clinical improvement. A complete laboratory response with normalization of creatine kinase and other muscle-associated enzymes did not, however, significantly predict clinical responsiveness in the prospective trial. In this first report, to our knowledge, of a prospective trial of immunosuppressive therapy for this disease, stabilization and even slight improvement of strength and functional abilities appeared to be achieved in some patients. We believe that prednisone and other immunosuppressive therapies were of modest benefit in about half of patients with inclusion body myositis, especially those with some evidence of active inflammation. Stabilization of an otherwise inexorably deteriorating course appears, therefore, to be an attainable goal in some patients with IBM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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