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Review

Role of non-immune mechanisms of muscle damage in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies

William Coley, Sree Rayavarapu and Kanneboyina Nagaraju*

Author Affiliations

Research Center for Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Departments of Integrative Systems Biology and Pediatrics, and Institute for Biomedical Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine Washington, Washington, DC 20010, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:209  doi:10.1186/ar3791

Published: 27 April 2012

Abstract

Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) comprise a group of autoimmune diseases that are characterized by symmetrical skeletal muscle weakness and muscle inflammation with no known cause. Like other autoimmune diseases, IIMs are treated with either glucocorticoids or immunosuppressive drugs. However, many patients with an IIM are frequently resistant to immunosuppressive treatments, and there is compelling evidence to indicate that not only adaptive immune but also several non-immune mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of these disorders. Here, we focus on some of the evidence related to pathologic mechanisms, such as the innate immune response, endoplasmic reticulum stress, non-immune consequences of MHC class I overexpression, metabolic disturbances, and hypoxia. These mechanisms may explain how IIM-related pathologic processes can continue even in the face of immunosuppressive therapies. These data indicate that therapeutic strategies in IIMs should be directed at both immune and non-immune mechanisms of muscle damage.