To explore the role of peripheral lymphocyte count in phenotyping and prognosis prediction in dermatomyositis (DM) patients with anti-MDA5 antibodies.
In total, 1669 patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) were retrospectively enrolled. Clinical characteristics and prognosis of patients with anti-MDA5+ DM were analyzed in association with peripheral lymphocyte counts and clusters determined by unsupervised machine learning.
The peripheral lymphocyte count was significantly lower in the anti-MDA5+ DM group (N = 421) than in the other IIM serotype groups. The anti-MDA5+ DM patients were divided into three groups; the severe lymphopenia group had skin ulcers and rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease (RP-ILD); patients with a normal lymphocyte count had a younger age of onset, more frequent arthritis, and normal serum ferritin levels; whereas mild lymphopenia group showed a moderate increase of serum ferritin and intermediate incidence of RP-ILD. Survival analysis revealed that the 3- and 6-month mortality rates were significantly higher in the severe lymphopenia group (29.0% and 42.1%, respectively) than in the mild lymphopenia group and normal lymphocyte count group (P all< 0.001). Consistently, unsupervised machine learning identified three similar groups; the arthritis cluster shows the highest lymphocyte counts and best prognosis; the RP-ILD cluster presents the lowest peripheral lymphocyte, high incidence of RP-ILD, and poor prognosis; the typical DM rash cluster had a moderate peripheral lymphocyte count and an intermediate prognosis.
Lymphopenia is a unique manifestation of anti-MDA5+ DM. Peripheral lymphocyte count can define clinical phenotypes and predict prognosis in anti-MDA5+ DM. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.