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Polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) are severe chronic autoimmune diseases, characterized by muscle fatigue and low muscle endurance. Conventional treatment includes high doses of glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive drugs; however, few patients recover full muscle function. One explanation of the persistent muscle weakness could be altered lipid metabolism in PM/DM muscle tissue as we previously reported. Using a targeted lipidomic approach we aimed to characterize serum lipid profiles in patients with PM/DM compared to healthy individuals (HI) in a cross-sectional study. Also, in the longitudinal study we compared serum lipid profiles in patients newly diagnosed with PM/DM before and after immunosuppressive treatment.
Lipidomic profiles were analyzed in serum samples from 13 patients with PM/DM, 12 HI and 8 patients newly diagnosed with PM/DM before and after conventional immunosuppressive treatment using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and a gas-chromatography flame ionization detector (GC-FID). Functional Index (FI), as a test of muscle performance and serum levels of creatine kinase (s-CK) as a proxy for disease activity were analyzed.
The fatty acid (FA) composition of total serum lipids was altered in patients with PM/DM compared to HI; the levels of palmitic (16:0) acid were significantly higher while the levels of arachidonic (20:4, n-6) acid were significantly lower in patients with PM/DM. The profiles of serum phosphatidylcholine and triacylglycerol species were changed in patients with PM/DM compared to HI, suggesting disproportionate levels of saturated and polyunsaturated FAs that might have negative effects on muscle performance. After immunosuppressive treatment the total serum lipid levels of eicosadienoic (20:2, n-6) and eicosapentaenoic (20:5, n-3) acids were increased and serum phospholipid profiles were altered in patients with PM/DM. The correlation between FI or s-CK and levels of several lipid species indicate the important role of lipid changes in muscle performance and inflammation.
Serum lipids profiles are significantly altered in patients with PM/DM compared to HI. Moreover, immunosuppressive treatment in patients newly diagnosed with PM/DM significantly affected serum lipid profiles. These findings provide new evidence of the dysregulated lipid metabolism in patients with PM/DM that could possibly contribute to low muscle performance.