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Antisynthetase Syndrome

What is Antisynthetase Syndrome?

Antisynthetase Syndrome is a rare, chronic autoimmune condition that can affect multiple body systems, but usually has the most impact on a patient’s muscles and lungs. The symptoms and severity vary greatly among patients, and may include myositis, arthritis, inflammation of joints, interstitial lung disease, unexplained fever, and thickening of the fingers. Fewer than 50,000 people are diagnosed with this condition, which is a type of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy.

What Causes Antisynthetase Syndrome?

The exact cause is unknown, but researchers have linked it to the production of a specific autoantibody, called Anti-Jo-1, that attacks healthy tissue because the patient’s immune system is overactive. It’s more common in women than men, and the average age of onset is 50.

What are the Symptoms of Antisynthetase Syndrome?

Symptoms may include fatigue, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort, which relate to scarring and stiffness of lung tissue (interstitial lung disease). Other symptoms relate to inflammatory myositis, including muscle weakness. Patients may also experience arthritis, fevers, and Raynaud’s syndrome, which causes blood vessels to narrow and restricts blood flow to fingers and toes. Fingers may also become very rough and discolored. Patients typically have some, but not all symptoms.

How is Antisynthetase Syndrome Diagnosed?

This condition can be difficult to diagnose, requiring communication between specialists and the primary care provider to expedite diagnostic testing and initiate early treatment. Testing may include chest X-ray, a CT scan of the chest, muscle or lung biopsies, and a comprehensive autoimmune serology panel.

How is Antisynthetase Syndrome Treated?

A treatment plan targets a patient’s particular symptoms, depending on the body symptoms impacted by their individual case. Immunosuppressive therapy is needed to control the muscular and pulmonary progressions of the disease. Corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents, including azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, or tacrolimus, are usually used to manage symptoms. It can take two or three months for some of the medications to have their full effect.

Some patients may need to remain on medication for their entire lives, but blood work will be taken periodically to assess changes in order to make adjustments to the treatment plan.

What you can expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

UTHealth Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. You will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Contact Us

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.