Dual diagnosis of Pemphigus and pemphigoid. Retrospective review of thirty cases in the literature

N Sami, A R Ahmed
Dermatology: International Journal for Clinical and Investigative Dermatology 2001, 202 (4): 293-301

BACKGROUND: Pemphigus and pemphigoid are two distinct groups of autoimmune blistering diseases. There are many reports of the simultaneous presence of clinical and serological features of both diseases in the same patient.

OBJECTIVE: This study is a retrospective review of the present literature on reports of patients with features of both pemphigus and pemphigoid. We recommend that these patients be considered as having a dual diagnosis.

METHODS: A review of the English language, peer-reviewed literature was conducted on patients described with features of pemphigus and pemphigoid. Available data on clinical profile, histology, immunopathology, treatment, follow-up and outcome were studied in 30 patients. They were divided into three groups: (1) bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris, (2) mucous membrane or cicatricial pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris and (3) bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus foliaceus.

RESULTS: In all three groups, most patients had a clinical phenotype resembling both diseases. In 17 patients with bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris, 83% had a skin biopsy consistent with bullous pemphigoid, 70% had direct immunofluorescence studies typical of bullous pemphigoid and sera of 83% had antibodies typical of pemphigus vulgaris on indirect immunofluorescence. In 10 patients with mucous membrane or cicatricial pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris, a histology of mucous membrane pemphigoid was reported in 60% of the patients, direct immunofluorescence studies typical of mucous membrane pemphigoid were reported in 70% of the patients and in 80%, autoantibodies characteristic of pemphigus vulgaris were observed. In 3 patients with bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus foliaceus, the histologies were consistent with bullous pemphigoid, direct immunofluorescence was typical of pemphigus foliaceus and their sera had both autoantibodies. The majority of the 30 patients required long-term high-dose corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents to control their disease. Three patients with bullous pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris (18%) died due to effects of prolonged immunosuppression.

CONCLUSION: We characterize a group of patients who have clinical, histological and immunopathological features of bullous or mucous membrane or cicatricial pemphigoid with serological features of pemphigus. These patients did not achieve a prolonged clinical remission by conventional therapy. It is possible that early identification of these patients may improve their prognosis.

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