Microvascular deposition of complement membrane attack complex in dermatomyositis

J. T. Kissel, J. R. Mendell, Kottil W Rammohan

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Abstract

We examined the role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of dermatomyositis. Using an antibody against the neoantigens of the terminal C5b-9 membrane attack complex, we performed immunocytochemical studies that localized this complex to the intramuscular microvasculature (arterioles and capillaries) of muscle biopsy specimens from 10 of 12 patients (83 percent) with childhood dermatomyositis and 5 of 19 patients (26 percent) with adult dermatomyositis. Fifty-two control specimens, including 14 from patients with polymyositis and 12 from patients with denervation atrophy (a condition known to be associated with necrotic capillaries), showed no deposition of membrane attack complex in the microvasculature. These findings indicate that the complement system is deposited, bound, and activated to completion within the intramuscular microvasculature of patients with dermatomyositis. In addition to providing further evidence for the presence of vasculopathy in dermatomyositis, these findings suggest a primary role for complement in mediating vessel injury in the disease, particularly in its childhood form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-334
Number of pages6
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Volume314
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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