Purpose of review
This is a comprehensive review of the current knowledge on predominant immune cell phenotypes involved in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM).
Major circulating immune cell subpopulations described in IIM encompass the lymphocyte compartment. An unbalance in T cell subsets seems to consistently affect the peripheral and muscle compartment, with a predominance of CD4+ T and B cells in dermatomyositis, CD8+ T cells in polymyositis/inclusion body myositis (IBM) and novel findings highlighting novel proinflammatory T subsets, that is, CD8+Tbet+ and CD28− T cells across different IIM subsets. On the other hand, an impairment in Treg cells number and function has been described especially across polymyositis/dermatomyositis and IBM. Total T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, increased in immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy, skewed toward Tfh2 and Tfh17 in dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and juvenile dermatomyositis. B cell compartment is more rarely described in IIM, yet an unbalance in this pool is as well likely. Evidence of plasma cells increased in polymyositis, dermatomyositis, IBM, and Bregs decreased in dermatomyositis have been reported. Perturbations in the memory and naïve subsets are common in dermatomyositis/polymyositis and antisynthetase syndrome.
Protean immune cell abnormalities characterize different IIM subsets, reflecting the complexity of these autoimmune conditions. A deeper understanding of B-cell and T-cell immunophenotyping may promote early diagnosis and identification of new potential therapeutic targets.