The juvenile idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (JIIM) are systemic autoimmune diseases characterized by skeletal muscle weakness, characteristic rashes, and other systemic features. Although juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), the most common form of JIIM, has been well studied, the other major clinical subgroups of JIIM, including juvenile polymyositis (JPM) and juvenile myositis overlapping with another autoimmune or connective tissue disease (JCTM), have not been well characterized, and their similarity to the adult clinical subgroups is unknown. We enrolled 436 patients with JIIM, including 354 classified as JDM, 33 as JPM, and 49 as JCTM, in a nationwide registry study. The aim of the study was to compare demographics; clinical features; laboratory measures, including myositis autoantibodies; and outcomes among these clinical subgroups, as well as with published data on adult patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) enrolled in a separate natural history study.
We used random forest classification and logistic regression modeling to compare clinical subgroups, following univariate analysis. JDM was characterized by typical rashes, including Gottron papules, heliotrope rash, malar rash, periungual capillary changes, and other photosensitive and vasculopathic skin rashes. JPM was characterized by more severe weakness, higher creatine kinase levels, falling episodes, and more frequent cardiac disease. JCTM had more frequent interstitial lung disease, Raynaud phenomenon, arthralgia, and malar rash. Differences in autoantibody frequency were also evident, with anti-p155/140, anti-MJ, and anti-Mi-2 seen more frequently in patients with JDM, anti-signal recognition particle and anti-Jo-1 in JPM, and anti-U1-RNP, PM-Scl, and other myositis-associated autoantibodies more commonly present in JCTM. Mortality was highest in patients with JCTM, whereas hospitalizations and wheelchair use were highest in JPM patients. Several demographic and clinical features were shared between juvenile and adult IIM subgroups. However, JDM and JPM patients had a lower frequency of interstitial lung disease, Raynaud phenomenon, “mechanic’s hands” and carpal tunnel syndrome, and lower mortality than their adult counterparts. We conclude that juvenile myositis is a heterogeneous group of illnesses with distinct clinical subgroups, defined by varying clinical and demographic characteristics, laboratory features, and outcomes.