[Interstitial lung diseases in polymyositis and dermatomyositis]

I Marie, S Dominique, M Rémy-Jardin, P Y Hatron, E Hachulla
La Revue de Médecine Interne 2001, 22 (11): 1083-96

PURPOSE: Interstitial lung disease is one of the most common respiratory manifestations in polymyositis and dermatomyositis. It still remains a severe complication of the disease, leading to death related to ventilatory insufficiency in 30-66% of patients.

CURRENT KNOWLEDGE AND KEY POINTS: Time onset of interstitial lung disease is variable, although interstitial lung disease onset precedes initial manifestations of polymyositis/dermatomyositis in roughly half of the patients. Moreover, clinical presentation of interstitial lung disease can be dichotomized, according to patients' pulmonary manifestations, into: 1) both acute and aggressive lung disease similar to Hamman-Rich syndrome; 2) slowly progressive lung disease; and 3) an asymptomatic pattern. The methods of choice adopted for early diagnosis of interstitial lung disease are high-resolution computed tomography scan and pulmonary function tests, which should be performed during both initial evaluation of polymyositis/dermatomyositis and follow-up. Because anti-JO1 antibody is considered to be a marker of interstitial lung disease in polymyositis/dermatomyositis, close pulmonary follow-up of anti-JO1-positive patients with polymyositis is therefore required for early detection of subclinical impairment. Furthermore, histological lung findings provide prognostic data; patients with bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP) indeed appear to have a more favorable outcome than those with usual interstitial pneumonia or diffuse alveolar damage. Finally, as a guide to both the severity and progress of interstitial lung disease, the significance of other investigations, notably bronchoalveolar lavage, remains controversial.

FUTURE PROSPECTS AND PROJECTS: Specific therapy of interstitial lung disease has not yet been clearly established in polymyositis/dermatomyositis patients. Corticosteroid therapy is considered the first line of therapy for polymyositis/dermatomyositis patients with interstitial lung disease. The association of cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids may be the most effective in patients with steroid-resistant interstitial lung disease. Early diagnosis and management of this disease is therefore of the utmost importance.

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