Yearly Archives: 2000

By Jean-Claude Bystryn, M.D.
Professor of Dermatology
Director of Immunofluorescence Laboratory
The Ronald O. Perelman
Department of Dermatology
New York University Medical Center

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) can enter into remissions in which all manifestations of the disease disappear and all therapy can be discontinued. How often, and when this occurs is unclear. Review of all major studies of PV conducted during the past four decades describes remissions as occurring in less than one-third of patients.1 However, a problem with these studies is that the incidence of remissions is usually provided at only a single time point. Thus, it is unclear how long it takes for remissions to appear, how long they last and what happens when therapy is discontinued. Further complicating interpretations of the results is that the meaning of remission is often unclear. The criteria used by different investigators to define this event differ and/or are not provided. The practical outcome of this incomplete information is uncertainty about the management of pemphigus. It is unclear whether treatment simply suppresses the manifestations of the disease and must be continued permanently, or whether complete and durable remissions can be induced that permit therapy to be safely discontinued.

by Thierry Olivry, DrVet, PhD, DipACVD, DipECVD,
Associate Professor of Dermatology, Department of Clinical Sciences,
College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State University,
Raleigh, North Carolina,
and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology, Department of Dermatology,
School of Medicine, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Autoimmune blistering skin diseases first were identified in companion animals twenty five years ago, with the description of two dogs affected with pemphigus vulgaris (PV). Two years later, the first cases of pemphigus foliaceus (PF) were recognized in canine patients. These two diseases represent the main forms of animal pemphigus being diagnosed by veterinarians.

Surprisingly, whereas the main form of pemphigus affecting human individuals is pemphigus vulgaris (PV), this entity is extremely rare in dogs with less than 50 cases being reported in veterinary medical journals. This deep pemphigus variant also has been recognized, albeit very sporadically, in rare cats and horses.

by Ernest H. Beutner, Ph.D.*
Professor of Microbiology and Dermatology,
University of Buffalo; School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences;
Buffalo, NY

Patients with pemphigus may benefit by working with their doctors to gain a better understanding of the tests used to detect and control the disease, in some situations. Three groups of tests can help doctors diagnose pemphigus; one of these can also help to control the disease. Two groups use skin or oral tissue samples, one from light microscopy and one for direct immunofluorescence. A third group uses blood tests for the pemphigus antibodies that cause the disease; these fluctuate with disease activity. Many doctors use al three methods to check all diagnoses of pemphigus; each test gives different types of information.

By David A. Sirois, D.M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Oral Medicine

Pemphigus vulgaris is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the mucosa and skin and resulting in epithelial acantholysis, bullae formation, and chronic ulceration.1 Skin lesions of pemphigus vulgaris present clinically with typical bullae formation and ulceration. However, oral mucosal manifestations are less characteristic, typically occurring as multiple, chronic mucosal erosions or superficial ulcerations of various sizes and rarely presenting with intact bullae.2 Although pemphigus vulgaris is widely considered a skin disease, several reports of cases and case series have described it frequently as the initial, and occasionally the exclusive, site of involvement.2, 3 Thus, the unfamiliar features of oral pemphigus vulgaris could result in longer diagnostic and treatment delays than cutaneous pemphigus, which could adversely affect treatment response and prognosis.4, 5 The present study explored the natural history and diagnostic pattern of pemphigus vulgaris among 99 patients, with specific interest in the differences between oral and cutaneous pemphigus.

By Grant J. Anhalt, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Dermatology

I will attempt to clarify what we know about the antibody response in various forms of pemphigus and how the distribution of the targeted antigens affects the location of lesions. The synthesis of this work has been proposed by Dr. John Stanley, with key published advances from Dr. Masa Amagai and Mai Mahoney, Ph.D., P. Koch and others. John Stanley refers to his concept as the “desmoglein compensation hypothesis”. The key to this hypothesis is the desmogleins (pemphigus antigens) are key adhesion molecules that keep cells attached to each other. In some areas of the body, there are two desmogleins present, and both have to be damaged to cause cell detachment – in some areas only one desmoglein may be present at some level in the skin or mucous membrane, and there only one desmoglein has to be damaged to cause cell detachment.

By Jennifer Romero, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

If you are a person with pemphigus whose condition is severe enough to prevent you from doing any gainful work activity, you could be eligible for assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Pemphigus is described in the SSAU Publication No. 64-039 Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, Section 8.03 (page 58) listing of eligible impairments. The language the SSA uses is: “Pemphigus, erythema multiform bullosum, bullous pemphigoid, dermatitis herpeti–formis. With extensive lesions not responding to prescribed treatment.”