Alexander K.C. Leung*, Joseph M Lam, Saud Alobaida, Kin Fon Leong and Alex H.C. Wong
Background: Juvenile dermatomyositis is the most common inflammatory myopathy in the pediatric age group and a major cause of mortality and morbidity in individuals with childhood rheumatic diseases. Mounting evidence suggests that early diagnosis and timely aggressive treatment are associated with better outcomes.
Objective: This purpose of this article is to provide readers with an update on the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of juvenile dermatomyositis. The search strategy included meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, clinical trials, observational studies, and reviews. The search was restricted to the English literature. The information retrieved from the above search was used in the compilation of the present article.
Methods: A PubMed search was performed in Clinical Queries using the key term “juvenile dermatomyositis” as search engine.
Results: Juvenile dermatomyositis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory condition characterized by systemic capillary vasculopathy that primarily affects the skin and muscles with possible involvement of other organs. In 2017, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) developed diagnostic criteria for juvenile idiopathic inflammatory myopathies and juvenile dermatomyositis. In the absence of muscle biopsies which are infrequently performed in children, scores (in brackets) are assigned to four variables related to muscle weakness, three variables related to skin manifestations, one variable related to other clinical manifestations, and two variables related to laboratory measurements to discriminate idiopathic inflammatory myopathies from non-idiopathic inflammatory myopathies as follows: objective symmetric weakness, usually progressive, of the proximal upper extremities (0.7); objective symmetric weakness, usually progressive, of the proximal lower extremities (0.8); neck flexors relatively weaker than neck extensors (1.9); leg proximal muscles relatively weaker than distal muscles (0.9); heliotrope rash (3.1); Gottron papules (2.1); Gottron sign (3.3); dysphagia or esophageal dysmotility (0.7); presence of anti-Jo-1 autoantibody (3.9); and elevated serum levels of muscle enzymes (1.3). In the absence of muscle biopsy, a definite diagnosis of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy can be made if the total score is ≥7.5. Patients whose age at onset of symptoms is less than 18 years and who meet the above criteria for idiopathic inflammatory myopathy and have a heliotrope rash, Gottron papules or Gottron sign are deemed to have juvenile dermatomyositis. The mainstay of therapy at the time of diagnosis is high-dose corticosteroid (oral or intravenous) in combination with methotrexate.
Conclusion: For mild to moderate active muscle disease, early aggressive treatment with high-dose oral prednisone alone or in combination with methotrexate is the cornerstone of management. Pulse intravenous methylprednisolone is often preferred to oral prednisone in more severely affected patients, patients who respond poorly to oral prednisone, and those with gastrointestinal vasculopathy. Other steroid-sparing immunosuppressive agents such as cyclosporine and cyclophosphamide are reserved for patients with contraindications or intolerance to methotrexate and for refractory cases, as the use of these agents is associated with more adverse events. Various biological agents have been used in the treatment of juvenile dermatomyositis. Data on their efficacy are limited and their use in the treatment of juvenile dermatomyositis is considered investigational.
calcinosis, elevated muscle enzymes, juvenile idiopathic inflammatory myopathy, heliotrope rash, Gottron papules/sign, myositis-specific antibodies, proximal muscle weakness
Department of Pediatrics, The University of Calgary, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Dermatology and Skin Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Department of Dermatology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Riyadh, Pediatric Institute, Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Department of Family Medicine, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta