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Hum Pathol. 1997 Aug;28(8):887-92.

Ubiquitin immunostaining and inclusion body myositis: study of 30 patients with inclusion body myositis.

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Department of Pathology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Case Western Reserve University, OH 44195, USA.


Distinction of inclusion body myositis (IBM) from other forms of inflammatory myopathy is significant from prognostic and therapeutic standpoints. This study retrospectively examines ubiquitin expression by paraffin immunohistochemistry in muscle biopsy material from 30 patients with IBM. Patients included 19 men and 11 women (ages 29 to 80 years; mean, 64 years). All biopsies were characterized by endomysial chronic inflammation, muscle fiber degeneration and regeneration, rimmed vacuoles, and angular atrophic esterase-positive muscle fibers. Ragged red fibers were identified in biopsies of five patients and a partial cytochrome C-oxidase deficiency by enzyme histochemistry in biopsies of 10 patients. Evidence of intranuclear or cytoplasmic tubulofilamentous structures confirming a diagnosis of IBM was observed in all 30 cases. Paracrystalline mitochondrial inclusions were noted in five patients. Discrete myocyte intranuclear ubiquitin-positive inclusions were noted in 14 patients (47%). Discrete intracytoplasmic ubiquitin-positive inclusions were noted in 24 (80%) patients. Positive staining of rimmed vacuoles by ubiquitin was observed in 25 (83%) patients. Diffuse staining of scattered muscle fibers was observed in 21 (70%) patients. In a control group including patients with polymyositis (n = 3), dermatomyositis (n = 3), necrotizing vasculitis (n = 1), and granulomatous myositis (n = 1), discrete intranuclear or cytoplasmic ubiquitin-positive inclusions were not observed. Rimmed vacuoles were not seen either by light microscopy or ubiquitin immunostaining in any of the eight cases. Occasional myofibers from all eight cases showed diffuse, positive muscle fiber staining. Although not present in all cases, evidence of ubiquitin-positive myocytic intranuclear or cytoplasmic inclusions or positive-staining rimmed vacuoles in the setting of an inflammatory myopathy may be suggestive of a diagnosis of inclusion body myositis. Use of ubiquitin immunohistochemistry may be useful in cases in which frozen tissue or tissue processed for electron microscopy is not available, and IBM is suspected. Light or electron microscopic evidence of mitochondrial abnormalities were noted in a significant subset of patients (13 of 30; 43%) of patients with IBM.

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