Researchers Identify Immune System Targets Associated With Skin Blistering Disease Pemphigus Vulgaris
Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system develops antibodies to two of its own proteins, the desmogleins DSG1 and DSG3 that help maintain the integrity of the skin. The immune attack causes painful blisters on the skin and mucus membranes that can lead to infections. Current therapies are geared towards suppressing the entire immune system, but this is problematic as it causes many side effects and leaves the patient vulnerable to infection.
To identify better therapeutic targets, researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland, identified the portions of DSG1 and DSG3 that are targeted by antibodies. In the study, published this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Antonio Lanzavecchia and colleagues collected immune cells from PV patients and isolated the antibodies to determine which ones were involved in PV. By studying the antibodies, they were able to identify regions of DSG3 that are the primary target of the immune system. These findings could help with new ways to diagnose and treat PV.
“Pathogenic pemphigus autoantibodies generated through somatic mutations target the desmoglein-3 cis-adhesive interface” Antonio Lanzavecchia, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona, CHE
Journal of Clinical Investigation Sept. 4, 2012