Dermatomyositis (DM) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs more often in women than men and causes highly symptomatic and inflammatory cutaneous and proximal muscle disease. Corticosteroids have been the treatment of choice for myositis in DM, and antimalarial agents for the skin disease of DM, with methotrexate sodium, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, cyclosporine, and intravenous immunoglobulin used as steroid-sparing agents. Recently, reports supporting a role for anti–tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) therapy in the treatment of DM have emerged.
We describe 2 women who experienced an improvement in their DM-associated skin eruptions while taking antiestrogen medication. The first patient was taking tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator that has been found to have anti–TNF-α properties. The second was taking anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor. When tamoxifen therapy was discontinued after 4 years of use in the first patient, her DM rash worsened and remained difficult to control with conventional immunosuppressant medication.
With the limited number of therapies available to manage DM skin eruptions, the discovery of novel agents effective in treating this disease is vital. Using antiestrogen medication in women with DM may result in a significant improvement in their rash, possibly via the inhibition of TNF-α production by immune or other cells. Further investigation into the use of antiestrogen therapy in DM is merited to evaluate long-term risks and benefits.