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Muscle Nerve. 1998 Dec;21(12):1724-8.

Inflammatory myopathy with cytochrome oxidase negative muscle fibers: methotrexate treatment.

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Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Inflammatory myopathy with cytochrome oxidase negative muscle fibers (IM/COX-) is characterized by slowly progressive weakness, most prominent in the quadriceps, muscle fibers with reduced COX staining and mitochondrial DNA mutations, and a poor response to corticosteroid treatment. We reviewed records of quantitative measurements of muscle strength in 7 IM/COX- patients to evaluate the outcomes after treatment with oral, once weekly, methotrexate for an average of 15 months. We compared the results to 6 patients with IM/COX- who received no long-term immunosuppression, and to 4 with inclusion body myositis (IBM) who received methotrexate during the same period. Methotrexate treatment of IM/ COX- was followed by improved muscle strength in 5 of 7 patients, averaging 17+/-5%. In contrast, there was no improvement in the strength of 6 untreated IM/COX- patients (-6+/-4%; P=0.003), or 4 methotrexate-treated IBM patients (1+/-2%; P=0.03). We conclude that, despite clinical similarities to inclusion body myositis, which is usually refractory to immunosuppressive therapy, strength in IM/COX- appears to improve with methotrexate treatment. Biopsy studies of inflammatory myopathies with evaluation of muscle for mitochondrial changes and vacuoles can help to direct the choice of appropriate immunomodulating treatments.

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