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Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2018 Dec 24;6(2):e535. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000535. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Inflammatory myopathy with myasthenia gravis: Thymoma association and polymyositis pathology.

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Department of Neurology (N.U., K.T., C.I., A.U., A.K., T.T., J.S.), Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo; Division of Neurology (M.K., K.K.), Department of Internal Medicine, National Defense Medical College, Saitama; Division of Neurology (Y. Shiio), Tokyo Teishin Hospital; Department of Neurology (Y. Sakurai), Mitsui Memorial Hospital; Department of Neurology (Y.H.), Teikyo University School of Medicine; and Department of Neurology (K.Y., S.N.-E.), Fukushima Medical University, Japan.



To provide evidence that idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IM) with myasthenia gravis (MG) frequently shows thymoma association and polymyositis (PM) pathology and shares clinicopathologic characteristics with IM induced by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs).


We analyzed the clinicopathologic features of 10 patients with idiopathic IM and MG identified in 970 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven IM.


Seven patients (70%) had thymoma. IM and MG were diagnosed with more than 5-year time difference in 6 thymomatous patients and within 1 year in 1 thymomatous and 3 nonthymomatous patients. Seven thymomatous patients showed rhabdomyolysis-like features with respiratory failure (4/7), dropped head (3/7), cardiac involvement (2/7), and positive anti-acetylcholine receptor (anti-AChR) and anti-titin antibodies (7/7 and 4/6, respectively) but rarely showed ocular symptoms (2/7) or decremental repetitive nerve stimulation (RNS) responses (1/7) at IM diagnosis. Three nonthymomatous patients showed acute cardiorespiratory failure with rhabdomyolysis-like features (1/3), positive anti-AChR and anti-titin antibodies (3/2 and 2/2, respectively), and fluctuating weakness of the skeletal muscle without ocular symptoms (3/3). Muscle pathology showed a PM pathology with infiltration of CD8-positive CD45RA-negative T-lymphocytes (9/9), scattered endomysial programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)-positive cells (9/9), and overexpression of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) on the sarcolemma of muscle fibers around the infiltrating PD-1-positive cells (7/9).


Rhabdomyolysis-like features, positive anti-AChR antibody without decremental RNS responses, and PD-L1 overexpression are possible characteristics shared by ICI-induced IM. Frequent thymoma association in patients with idiopathic IM and MG may suggest thymoma-related immunopathogenic mechanisms, including dysregulation of the immune checkpoint pathway.

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