Background: Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) I and II expression is not normally detected on sarcolemma, but is detected with lymphocytic infiltrates in immune-mediated myositis (IMM) of humans and dogs and in dysferlin-deficient muscular dystrophy. Hypothesis/Objectives: To determine if sarcolemmal MHC is expressed in active IMM in horses, if MHC expression is associated with lymphocytic subtype, and if dysferlin is expressed in IMM. Animals: Twenty-one IMM horses of Quarter Horse-related breeds, 3 healthy and 6 disease controls (3 pasture myopathy, 3 amylase-resistant polysaccharide storage myopathy [PSSM]). Methods: Immunohistochemical staining for MHC I, II, and CD4+, CD8+, CD20+ lymphocytes was performed on archived muscle of IMM and control horses. Scores were given for MHC I, II, and lymphocytic subtypes. Immunofluorescent staining for dysferlin, dystrophin, and a-sarcoglycan was performed. Results: Sarcolemmal MHC I and II expression was detected in 17/21 and 15/21 of IMM horses, respectively, and in specific fibers of PSSM horses, but not healthy or pasture myopathy controls. The CD4+, CD8+, and CD20+ cells were present in 20/21 IMM muscles with CD4+ predominance in 10/21 and CD8+ predominance in 6/21 of IMM horses. Dysferlin, dystrophin, and a-sarcoglycan staining were similar in IMM and control muscles. Conclusions and clinical importance: Deficiencies of dysferlin, dystrophin, and a-sarcoglycan are not associated with IMM. Sarcolemmal MHC I and II expression in a proportion of myofibers of IMM horses in conjunction with lymphocytic infiltration supports an immune-mediated etiology for IMM. The MHC expression also occured in specific myofibers in PSSM horses in the absence of lymphocytic infiltrates.
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