Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia
On-line version ISSN 1806-4841
AOKI, Valéria and THE COOPERATIVE GROUP ON FOGO SELVAGEM RESEARCH et al. Significance of epitope spreading in the pathogenesis of pemphigus vulgaris and foliaceus. An. Bras. Dermatol. [online]. 2008, vol.83, n.2, pp. 157-161. ISSN 1806-4841. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0365-05962008000200010.
Pemphigus comprises autoimmune blistering skin diseases in which autoantibodies directed against antigens (epithelial adhesion molecules) are found, leading to loss of cell cohesion. The production of autoantibodies occurs due to an immune imbalance (break of immune tolerance) driving to recognition of self- antigens. The response is usually directed against an exclusive target epitope; however, due to the inflammatory response and to the extensive tissue damage, it is possible that the exposure of hidden protein components leads to distinct autoantibody production. Hence, a new autoimmune disease may occur in consequence of an intra- or intermolecular epitope spreading phenomenon. The authors review the main concepts of this phenomenon, and its occurrence in autoimmune blistering diseases, with emphasis on pemphigus, the most prevalent disease of this group in our country.
Keywords : Autoimmunity; Desmogleins; Epitopes; Pemphigus.