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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 1998 August;133(4):237-42


language: Italian

Immunohistochemical evaluation of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) in chronic idiopathic urticaria

Motolese A. 1, Scacchetti A. T. 2, Vaschieri C. 1, Manzini B. M. 1

1 Università degli Studi - Modena, Clinica Dermatologica; 2 Servizio di Immunoematologia e Trasfusionale


Background. The role of eosinophil in urticaria is still to be defined as well as in other allergic or inflammatory diseases. With the aim to study, in urticaria, the role of eosinophil secreted protein, the serum levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and their tissue deposit in current bullous lesions have been investigated with immunohistochemical techniques.
Methods. We investigated Eosinophil Cationic Protein (ECP) immunohistochemical expression in skin biopsies of 12 patients affected by chronic idiopathic urticaria. The presence of eosinophils and ECP were studied using the marker EG-2 monoclonal antibodies, which recognizes the secreted form of ECP. The number of EG-2 + cells was counted and the mean from three sections was calculated. We also studied the number of circulating eosinophils and serum levels of ECP in all the patients. The control group consisted of 15 non-atopic healthy subjects (in which we measured ECP serum level), 2 patients with atopic dermatitis, 2 affected by bollous pemphigoid and 5 healthy subjects.
Results. EG-2 expression was localized with 3 different patterns: extracytoplasmatic granular single cell staining; fibrillar staining occurs in collagen fibers and ECP staining at endothelium vessel level. All the 12 patients had normal eosinophil blood counts, whereas the serum ECP value had increased in 8 subjects.
Conclusions. The demonstration of EG-2 expression in lesional skin of urticaria patients suggests the involvement of activated eosinophils in chronic idiopathic urticaria and a possible role of the cytotoxic ECP molecule in the evolution of skin lesions in chronic urticaria.

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