Objective To evaluate response to therapy over a 24-month period in a large prospective international cohort of patients with juvenile dermatomyositis (DM). Methods The study included 145 patients with recent-onset juvenile DM and 130 juvenile DM patients experiencing disease flare, all of whom were <18 years old. Disease activity parameters and therapeutic approaches in 4 geographic areas were analyzed at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 months. Response was assessed according to the Pediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organization (PRINTO) juvenile DM response criteria, and data were reported "as observed" and in the intent-to-treat (ITT) population. Results Patients with recent-onset juvenile DM at baseline had higher baseline disease activity and greater improvement over 24 months when compared to juvenile DM patients experiencing disease flare at baseline. Methotrexate (MTX) or high-dose corticosteroids were administered more frequently to patients with recent-onset juvenile DM, compared to juvenile DM patients experiencing disease flare, who were more likely to receive cyclosporine. Compared to patients from Western and Eastern Europe, a higher proportion of patients from South and Central America and North America received pulse steroids, and the average steroid dosage was higher in the North American and South and Central American patients. The use of MTX was similar in all 4 regions, while cyclosporin A was more frequently used in Western Europe. In the "as observed" analysis, 57.9% of the patients with recent-onset juvenile DM and 36.4% of the patients experiencing disease flare (P < 0.001) reached at least a 70% response by PRINTO criteria at 6 months; these proportions had increased at month 24 to 78.4% and 51.2%, respectively (P < 0.001). Corresponding results of the ITT analysis were much lower, with only one-third of the patients able to maintain the initial assigned therapy over 24 months. Conclusion Patients with recent-onset juvenile DM are more likely to achieve significant clinical improvement over 24 months, when compared to patients experiencing flares of juvenile DM. Internationally, various therapeutic approaches are used to treat this disease. Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Rheumatology.
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