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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Your Question

What are the long term effects of being on Imuran? Is it feasible that polymyositis patients can eventually be medication free for this particular autoimmune disease? What is the long term prognosis of an individual who has been diagnosed with polymyositis? I recognize that this does vary with each individual. Lastly, the anti-Jo-1 antibody blood lab ranges were modified a few years ago. How does the new system range compare to the former process?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is the typical long term prognosis for people with polymyositis?

The long term prognosis for people with polymyositis is highly variable. Some people experience only mild weakness and respond well to treatment. Others experience a rapid progression of symptoms and do not respond to any therapy. Rarely, people with polymyositis recover spontaneously without any treatment. People with polymyositis tend to have a better outcome if they receive treatment right away, have mild muscle weakness, have no difficulty swallowing, and have no signs of disease in other organ systems such as the heart and lungs.[1]
Last updated: 10/31/2011

How can I learn more about the side effects and health consequences associated with the long term use of Imuran?

You can find details regarding the safety of Imuran on DailyMed. DailyMed is a public service of the National Library of Medicine. It provides high quality information for healthcare providers and consumers about marketed drugs. Click on DailyMed to view information on Imuran. 

In general, maintenance therapy of Imuran should be at the lowest effective dose. The optimum duration of maintenance therapy is not known. Risk for side effects may increase with higher dosing and longer duration of therapy. We encourage you to discuss this question further with your doctor and pharmacist.
Last updated: 10/31/2011

Can people with polymyositis become medication free?

Yes. If your polymyositis is well controlled for a period of time, your doctor may consider slowly decreasing and then stopping your medication. You and your healthcare provider must watch closely for any signs of worsening muscle weakness during this time; if weakness develops or worsens, consult with your clinician to determine if additional evaluation or treatment is needed.[1]
Last updated: 10/31/2011

How can I learn more about anti-Jo-1 antibody testing and how this testing has evolved overtime?

The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) has a voluntary service where you can ask specific questions about your tests, and recieve an answer from a ASCLS laboratory scientist. We suggest that you submit your question through the Ask Us form at the following link to the Web site:

In the meantime you can visit the following link to's information pages on ENA panel which includes information on  anti-Jo-1 testing.

Last updated: 10/31/2011

  • Darras BT. Patient information: Myositis. In: Basow, DS. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; 2011;