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Isolated anti-Ku antibody in scleroderma-myositis overlap syndrome: the histo-pathological patern

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Journal of Translational Medicine201210 (Suppl 3) :P57

  • Published:


  • Methotrexate
  • Maintenance Therapy
  • Scleroderma
  • Corticosteroid Therapy
  • Muscle Biopsy

An 18-years old African girl, suffered for almost 4 years of polyarthralgia, joint contractures and a hardcover appearance of the skin suggestive of scleroderma. The clinical picture and a high level of CPK suggested Polymyositis (PM).

Search for anti nuclear Antibody (ANA) showed speckled pattern at 1/2500 titre, and subscreening revealed isolated anti-Ku antibody. This was more often reported in association with PM - SSc overlap syndrome.

Skin biopsy favored linear scleroderma.

Interestingly, muscle biopsy showed features typical of dermatomyositis (DM).

No endocrine disorder or underlying mitotic process was registered.

Corticosteroid therapy was initiated followed by maintenance therapy with methotrexate; the outcome was favorable.

This case illustrates the interest of anti-Ku screening in the diagnostic work-up. Our observation thus emphasizes the possible occurrence of isolated anti-Ku antibody expression in an overlap syndrome comprising SSc-DM association. Such association/linkage (implicating DM rather than PM) is, to our knowledge, very rarely well reported. Moreover, the therapeutic response seems favorable in such condition.

We found one biopsy-confirmed observation of SSc-Inflammatory myositis (IM) overlap syndrome in an anti-Ku positive patient [1, 2]. This later case was initially reported as SSc-PM overlap syndrome. Interestingly, follow-up showed evolution towards typical features of DM, and hence an overlap syndrome of SSc-DM association.

Thus, our observation highlights the necessity/interest of biopsy to ascertain the precise nature of myositis in an overlap syndrome associating SSc and Myositis Clinico-pathological criteria in inflammatory myositis have been reviewed by Chérin P et al., [3].

Anti-ku Ab is knowingly reported in a context of myositis. Thus our observation and review of the literature suggest that in the presence of isolated anti-Ku Ab in a SSc-Myositis overlap context, muscle biopsy (that should be done) would tend to show DM (rather than PM) in association with the SSc. Such a finding may change the prognosis and the treatment approach of this syndrome. This can only be demonstrated after elaborate muscle biopsy in overlap syndromes, with or without the presence of anti-Ku antibodies.

Authors’ Affiliations

Dept. of Rheumatology, Brugmann University Hospital (U.L.B.), Brussels, Belgium
Dept. of Pathology, Brugmann University Hospital (U.L.B.), Brussels, Belgium
Dept. of Clinical Biology, Brugmann University Hospital (U.L.B.), Brussels, Belgium
Dept. of Dermatology, Brugmann University Hospital (U.L.B.), Brussels, Belgium


  1. Yamanishi Y, Maeda H, Katayama S, Ishioka S, Yamakido M: Scleroderma-polymyositis overlap syndrome associated with anti-Ku antibody and rimmed vacuole formation. J Rheumatol. 1996, 23: 1991-1994.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Kamei N, Yamane K, Yamashita Y: Anti-Ku antibody-positive scleroderma-dermatomyositis overlap syndrome developing Graves ' disease and immune thrombocytopenic purpura. Intern Med. 2002, 41: 1199-1203. 10.2169/internalmedicine.41.1199.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Chérin P, Marie I: Les nouveaux critères diagnostiques et d’évaluation des polymyosites et dermatomyosites. Rev Med Interne. 2005, 26 (5): 361-7. 10.1016/j.revmed.2005.02.002. Epub 2005 Mar 17View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Azanmene et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.