The impact of lesional inflammatory cellular infiltrate on the phenotype of bullous pemphigoid

S. Ständer, C. M. Hammers, A. Vorobyev, E. Schmidt, D. Zillikens, S. Ghorbanalipoor, K. Bieber, R. J. Ludwig, K. Kridin

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14 Scopus citations


Background: The influence of cutaneous cellular infiltration on the phenotype of bullous pemphigoid (BP) remains to be established. Objectives: To evaluate the main histopathological characteristics of patients with BP and to assess the association between the composition of lesional inflammatory infiltrate and the various clinical, immunological and immunopathological aspects of the disease. Methods: Retrospective study encompassing patients diagnosed with BP throughout the years 2009–2020 in a specialized tertiary referral centre. Results: The study encompassed 136 patients with BP, of whom 27 (19.9%) demonstrated a cell-poor inflammatory infiltrate in lesional skin specimens. Overall, 78 (57.4%), 71 (52.2%) and 5 (3.7%) specimens were found to include eosinophil-predominant, lymphocyte-predominant and neutrophil-predominant inflammatory infiltrates, respectively. Relative to the remaining patients with BP, those with an eosinophil-predominant inflammatory infiltrate had higher (90.8% vs. 77.2%; P = 0.030) whilst those with a cell-poor inflammatory infiltrate lower (70.3% vs. 88.7%; P = 0.017) seropositivity of anti-BP180 NC16A IgG. The latter subgroup presented with higher prevalence of mucosal involvement (25.9% vs. 8.3%; P = 0.011) and a non-inflammatory clinical phenotype (50.0% vs. 17.1%; P = 0.041). Patients with lymphocyte-predominant inflammatory infiltrate manifested with higher severity BPDAI scores and a lower frequency of the non-inflammatory subtype (11.1% vs. 36.4%; P = 0.035), whilst those with a neutrophilic infiltrate presented with lower mean (SD) levels of anti-BP180 NC16A IgG [269.3 (227.6) vs. 722.7 (1499.6) U/mL; P = 0.003]. Conclusions: Eosinophil-predominance and high cellularity in the lesional inflammatory infiltrate of BP skin are associated with increased seropositivity of anti-BP180 NC16A IgG. Lymphocyte-predominant infiltrates predict a more severe phenotype, pointing towards a pathogenic role of autoreactive lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1702-1711
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.


Clinical Research Unit Pemphigoid Diseases (KFO 303) and Cluster of Excellence Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation (EXC 2167), both funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

FundersFunder number
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


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