JOURNAL ARTICLE

Immunohistochemistry for immunoglobulin G4 on paraffin sections for the diagnosis of pemphigus

Xuefeng Zhang, Elizabeth Hyjek, Keyoumars Soltani, Vesna Petronic-Rosic, Christopher R Shea
Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 2012, 136 (11): 1402-7
23106586

CONTEXT: Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune vesiculobullous diseases characterized by immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies directed against desmosomal adhesion proteins, with IgG4 being the predominant subclass in active diseases. Direct immunofluorescence for IgG performed on fresh-frozen tissue plays a crucial role in diagnosing pemphigus. However, the diagnosis might be hindered when frozen tissue is not available.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the usefulness of immunohistochemistry for IgG4 performed on paraffin sections as a diagnostic test for pemphigus.

DESIGN: Eighteen immunofluorescence-proven pemphigus cases (12 pemphigus vulgaris, 6 pemphigus foliaceus) were studied. Four normal skin specimens and 32 nonpemphigus vesiculobullous disease specimens served as controls. Paraffin sections of all cases were examined immunohistochemically for IgG4 expression. Positivity was defined as distinct, condensed, continuous immunoreactivity localized to the intercellular junctions of keratinocytes.

RESULTS: The immunostains were independently evaluated in a masked manner by 3 pathologists, with a 100% interobserver agreement. Nine of 12 pemphigus vulgaris cases (sensitivity 75.0%), and 4 of 6 pemphigus foliaceus cases (sensitivity 66.7%), were positive for IgG4 immunostain. The overall sensitivity was 72.2%. One control specimen (bullous pemphigoid) showed IgG4 positivity (specificity 97.2%). In specimens demonstrating acantholysis, 8 of 10 pemphigus vulgaris cases (sensitivity 80.0%) and 4 of 4 pemphigus foliaceus cases (sensitivity 100.0%) were positive for IgG4. The overall sensitivity for specimens with acantholytic lesions was 85.7%.

CONCLUSION: Immunohistochemistry for IgG4 provides a reasonably sensitive and highly specific test for diagnosing pemphigus, especially when frozen tissue is not available, and active acantholytic lesions are examined.

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