OBJECTIVE: Juvenile dermatomyositis (DM) is an inflammatory myopathy in which the immune system targets the microvasculature of the skeletal muscle and skin, leading to significant muscle weakness and exercise intolerance, although the precise etiology is unknown. The goal of this study was to investigate the changes in exercise capacity in children with myositis during active and inactive disease periods and to study the responsiveness of exercise parameters.
METHODS: Thirteen children with juvenile DM (mean+/-SD age 11.2+/-2.6 years) participated in this study. Patients performed a maximal exercise test using an electronically braked cycle ergometer and respiratory gas analysis system. Exercise parameters were analyzed, including peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), peak work rate (Wpeak), and ventilatory anaerobic threshold (VAT). All children were tested during an active period of the disease and during a remission period. From these data, 4 different response statistics were calculated.
RESULTS: The children performed significantly better during a remission period compared with a period of active disease. Most exercise parameters showed a very large response. The 5 most responsive parameters were Wpeak, Wpeak (percent predicted), oxygen pulse, VO2peak, and power at the VAT.
CONCLUSION: We found in our longitudinal study that children with active juvenile DM had significantly reduced exercise parameters compared with a remission period. Moreover, we found that several parameters had very good responsiveness. With previously established validity and reliability, exercise testing has been demonstrated to be an excellent noninvasive instrument for the longitudinal followup of children with myositis.