The Immune Response and the Pathogenesis of Idiopathic Inflammatory Myositis: a Critical Review

Angela Ceribelli, Maria de Santis, Natasa Isailovic, M. Eric Gershwin, Carlo F Selmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The pathogenesis of idiopathic inflammatory myositis (IIMs, including polymyositis and dermatomyositis) remains largely enigmatic, despite advances in the study of the role played by innate immunity, adaptive immunity, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors in an orchestrated response. Several factors are involved in the inflammatory state that characterizes the different forms of IIMs which share features and mechanisms but are clearly different with respect to the involved sites and characteristics of the inflammation. Cellular and non-cellular mechanisms of both the immune and non-immune systems have been identified as key regulators of inflammation in polymyositis/dermatomyositis, particularly at different stages of disease, leading to the fibrotic state that characterizes the end stage. Among these, a special role is played by an interferon signature and complement cascade with different mechanisms in polymyositis and dermatomyositis; these differences can be identified also histologically in muscle biopsies. Numerous cellular components of the adaptive and innate immune response are present in the site of tissue inflammation, and the complexity of idiopathic inflammatory myositis is further supported by the involvement of non-immune mechanisms such as hypoxia and autophagy. The aim of this comprehensive review is to describe the major pathogenic mechanisms involved in the onset of idiopathic inflammatory myositis and to report on the major working hypothesis with therapeutic implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 16 2016


  • Cancer
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Polymyositis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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