To elucidate the clinical and histopathological features associated with autoantibodies to the signal recognition particle (SRP), we have studied 23 Japanese patients with this specificity among 3,500 patients with polymyositis/dermatomyositis and other connective tissue diseases. Anti-SRP antibodies were determined based on analysis of RNA and protein components by immunoprecipitation assays. The pathological analysis was performed by using special stainings including alkaline phosphatase, myosin ATPase, and modified Gomori trichrome stainings. Twenty-one (92%) of these 23 patients had myositis, 8 of whom (38%) required cytotoxic agents or intravenous immunoglobulin therapy in addition to corticosteroid therapy. Four patients (16%) had rheumatoid arthritis, two of whom had no features of myositis. Muscle biopsy specimens of 11 patients were examined histologically in detail. All 11 had muscle fiber necrosis and/or regeneration, but only one had infiltration of inflammatory cells. Six of the 11 (55%) patients showed type I fiber predominance by ATPase staining, while eight control myositis patients without anti-SRP antibodies did not. There was no correlation of other neurogenic features in histology with the presence of anti-SRP antibodies. These studies suggest that anti-SRP autoantibodies are most likely to be related to myopathies that are resistant to corticosteroid therapy and without inflammation histopathologically.
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