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Italian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology 2021 April;156(2):124-33

DOI: 10.23736/S2784-8671.20.06706-1


language: English

Autoreactive T cells in pemphigus: perpetrator and target

Luca SCARSELLA 1, Robert POLLMANN 1 , Kyle T. AMBER 2

1 Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany; 2 Department of Dermatology, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an autoimmune blistering disease, in which autoantibodies against epidermal cadherins, such as desmoglein (Dsg)1 and Dsg3, lead to the development of blisters and erosions on the skin and mucous membranes. Autoreactive CD4+ T cells are essential for the induction and perpetuation of the disease by interaction with B cells producing autoantibodies. PV has a strong genetic association with certain human leucocyte antigen (HLA) alleles with HLA-DRB1*04:02 and LA-DQB1*05:03 being the most prevalent in patients. Recently, genome-wide association studies have provided a new approach to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms, alongside the known association with HLA alleles. Loss of tolerance against Dsgs and other autoantigens is a critical event in the pathogenesis of PV. Epitope spreading contributes to the progression of PV, leading to an extension of the Dsg-specific autoimmune response to other molecular epitopes of autoantigens, such as desmocollins or muscarinic receptors. Alterations in CD4+CD25+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells are thought to contribute to the development of PV representing a suitable target for therapeutic interventions. Several CD4+ T-cell subsets and cytokines are involved in the pathogenesis of PV, while Th2 cells are the extensively studied population. Recently, other T cell subsets like T follicular helper cells and Th17 have gained attention as new potential players in PV pathogenesis. The involvement of local autoantibody production in the lesional skin of PV patients in tertiary lymphoid organs is currently discussed but not yet clarified. In this study, we reviewed the current knowledge about the development, characteristics and function of autoreactive T cells in pemphigus and present current new T cell-targeted therapeutic approaches.

KEY WORDS: Autoimmune diseases; Desmogleins; Pemphigus; T-lymphocytes; Targeted Therapy

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