Pemphigoid diseases are a group of well defined autoimmune disorders that are characterised by autoantibodies against structural proteins of the dermal-epidermal junction and, clinically, by tense blisters and erosions on skin or mucous membranes close to the skin surface. The most common of these diseases is bullous pemphigoid, which mainly affects older people and the reported incidence of which in Europe has more than doubled in the past decade. Prognosis and treatments vary substantially between the different disorders and, since clinical criteria are usually not sufficient, direct immunofluorescence microscopy of a perilesional biopsy specimen or serological tests are needed for exact diagnosis. In eight pemphigoid diseases the target antigens have been identified molecularly, which has allowed the development of standard diagnostic assays for detection of serum autoantibodies-some of which are commercially available. In this Seminar we discuss the clinical range, diagnostic criteria, diagnostic assay systems, and treatment options for this group of diseases.
Autoantibodies are frequently observed in healthy individuals. In a minority of these individuals, they lead to manifestation of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Graves' disease. Overall, more than 2.5% of the population is affected by autoantibody-driven autoimmune disease. Pathways leading to autoantibody-induced pathology greatly differ among different diseases, and autoantibodies directed against the same antigen, depending on the targeted epitope, can have diverse effects. To foster knowledge in autoantibody-induced pathology and to encourage development of urgently needed novel therapeutic strategies, we here categorized autoantibodies according to their effects. According to our algorithm, autoantibodies can be classified into the following categories: (1) mimic receptor stimulation, (2) blocking of neural transmission, (3) induction of altered signaling, triggering uncontrolled (4) microthrombosis, (5) cell lysis, (6) neutrophil activation, and (7) induction of inflammation. These mechanisms in relation to disease, as well as principles of autoantibody generation and detection, are reviewed herein.
Patients and Methods: Epidemiologic data of patients diagnosed with an autoimmune bullous disease during this time period were registered and statistically evaluated. Diagnosis was based on the clinical picture and specific immunopathological findings. Only patients from Lower Franconia, a well-defined administrative region of Southern Germany, were included into this study. Results: During the study period, 41 patients with an autoimmune bullous disease were diagnosed, including 27 with bullous pemphigoid, 4 with pemphigoid gestationis and mucous membrane pemphigoid, 2 with dermatitis herpetiformis and linear IgA disease, and 1 with epidermolysis bullosa acquisita and pemphigus vulgaris, respectively. The highest incidence was calculated for bullous pemphigoid (13.4 per 1 million inhabitants per year) followed by pemphigoid gestationis (2.0) and mucous membrane pemphigoid (2.0). Patients with mucous membrane pemphigoid were found to have the highest mean age at disease onset (76 years) followed by patients with bullous pemphigoid (74 years). Conclusions: This is the first prospective study on the incidence of autoimmune bullous disorders. Subepidermal blistering autoimmune diseases were shown to be more frequent than previously reported for Central Europe. This is most likely due to improved diagnostic tools for and increased awareness of these diseases.
Our scientific knowledge of bullous pemphigoid (BP) has dramatically progressed in recent years. However, despite the availability of various therapeutic options for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, only a few multicenter controlled trials have helped to define effective therapies in BP. A major obstacle in sharing multicenter-based evidences for therapeutic efforts is the lack of generally accepted definitions for the clinical evaluation of patients with BP. Common terms and end points of BP are needed so that experts in the field can accurately measure and assess disease extent, activity, severity, and therapeutic response, and thus facilitate and advance clinical trials. These recommendations from the International Pemphigoid Committee represent 2 years of collaborative efforts to attain mutually acceptable common definitions for BP and proposes a disease extent score, the BP Disease Area Index. These items should assist in the development of consistent reporting of outcomes in future BP reports and studies.
We present here the recommendations resulting from this Delphi process. This international consensus includes intravenous CD20 inhibitors as a first line therapy option for moderate to severe pemphigus.
Bullous pemphigoid is a subepidermal autoimmune blistering disease associated with autoantibodies to the hemidesmosomal bullous pemphigoid antigens 180 and 230. Most sera from bullous pemphigoid patients recognize epitopes within the N-terminal NC16A portion of the bullous pemphigoid 180 ectodomain. Using cryosections of human skin, patients' sera were shown to generate dermal-epidermal separation when coincubated with leukocytes and complement from healthy volunteers; however, the specificity of pathogenic autoantibodies in bullous pemphigoid patients has not yet been elucidated. In this study, by the use of a modified version of the cryosection model, we show that sera from all of 13 bullous pemphigoid patients and from two rabbits, immunized against bullous pemphigoid 180 NC16A, induced dermal-epidermal separation. This finding was confirmed with the use of IgG purified from patients' sera, whereas sera and purified IgG from healthy controls were not pathogenic. The induction of subepidermal splits in this experimental model was shown to be dependent on the presence of neutrophils, but not complement. Interestingly, patients' autoantibodies affinity purified against a recombinant form of bullous pemphigoid 180 NC16A retained their blister-inducing capacity, whereas patients' IgG depleted of reactivity to NC16A lost this ability. F(ab')2 fragments of antibodies specific to NC16A, lacking the Fc portion, did not induce splits. In addition, patients' autoantibodies purified against a recombinant fragment of the C-terminus of bullous pemphigoid 180 as well as rabbit antibodies to the intracellular portion of bullous pemphigoid 180 and to bullous pemphigoid 230 did not cause dermal-epidermal separation. Our in vitro results support the idea that autoantibodies to bullous pemphigoid 180 from patients with bullous pemphigoid are of pathogenic relevance.
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