The role of microvascular injury in the pathogenesis of cutaneous lesions of dermatomyositis
Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous
Although microvascular injury has been postulated as the pathogenetic basis of skeletal muscle injury in dermatomyositis (DM), its role in the genesis of the skin lesions, which are said to be difficult to distinguish light microscopically from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and subacute lupus erythematosus (SCLE), has not been analyzed. The authors' intention was to assess the role of microvascular injury in the pathogenesis of skin lesions in DM, SLE, and SCLE. Light microscopic features of biopsies of lesional skin from 20 patients with myopathic DM and 11 with amyopathic DM were compared to eight lesional skin biopsies from eight patients with SLE and 12 lesional skin biopsies from 12 patients with SCLE. Vascular density was compared in the three groups using an immunohistochemical preparation with an antibody to factor VIII. In 12 biopsies from the DM group, and in 19 of 20 lupus erythematosus (LE) specimens, frozen tissue was available. An indirect immunofluorescence methodology was used to detect C5b-9 deposition, and direct immunofluorescence studies for other immunoreactants were performed in standard fashion. Compared with LE, lesions of DM showed a greater degree of endothelial injury, vascular ectasia, and vascular fibrin deposition; there were no differences between myopathic versus amyopathic DM. C5b-9 deposition in vessels was significantly greater in DM than in LE. The superficial vascular plexus density was reduced in lesions of DM versus LE control groups with the greatest reduction observed in myopathic DM. Epithelial injury and mucin was greatest in myopathic DM. Microvascular injury is the apparent pathophysiological basis of skin lesions in DM. Careful attention to microvascular pathology enables distinction of DM from SLE and SCLE. Indirect immunofluorescence testing using a monoclonal antibody to C5b-9 is a valuable tool to distinguish DM from LE in biopsies of lesional skin.