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The discovery of novel autoantigen systems related to idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (collectively referred to as myositis) in adults and children has had major implications for the diagnosis and management of this group of diseases across a wide range of medical specialties. Traditionally, autoantibodies found in patients with myositis are described as being myositis-specific autoantibodies (MSAs) or myositis-associated autoantibodies (MAAs), depending on their prevalence in other, related conditions. However, certain MSAs are more closely associated with extramuscular manifestations, such as skin and lung disease, than with myositis itself. It is very rare for more than one MSA to coexist in the same individual, underpinning the potential to use MSAs to precisely define genetic and disease endotypes. Each MSA is associated with a distinctive pattern of disease or phenotype, which has implications for diagnosis and a more personalized approach to therapy. Knowledge of the function and localization of the autoantigenic targets for MSAs has provided key insights into the potential immunopathogenic mechanisms of myositis. In particular, evidence suggests that the alteration of expression of a myositis-related autoantigen by certain environmental influences or oncogenesis could be a pivotal event linking autoantibody generation to the development of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-302
Number of pages13
JournalNature reviews. Rheumatology
Issue number5
Early online date20 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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