Clinical, histological, immunological presentations and outcomes of bullous systemic lupus erythematosus: 10 New cases and a literature review of 118 cases

Tullia de Risi-Pugliese, Fleur Cohen Aubart, Julien Haroche, Philippe Moguelet, Sabine Grootenboer-Mignot, Alexis Mathian, Saskia Ingen-Housz-Oro, Miguel Hie, Noémie Wendremaire, Françoise Aucouturier, François Lepelletier, Makoto Miyara, Brigitte Bader-Meunier, Philippe Rémy, Nicole Fabien, Camille Francès, Stéphane Barete, Zahir Amoura
Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 2018, 48 (1): 83-89

BACKGROUND: Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus (BSLE) is a rare blistering condition associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We conducted a multi-center retrospective study and literature review in order to describe the clinical, immunological, and histological presentations and outcomes of BSLE. The skin biopsies were centrally reviewed, and sera obtained during a flare of BSLE were analyzed for identification of circulating anti-basement membrane zone antibodies.

RESULTS: Ten patients (all women, median age at SLE diagnosis of 22 years) were included, as well as 118 cases from a systematic review of the literature. Lupus nephritis was associated in 50% of the cases. BSLE presented as tensed bullae on normal or erythematous skin, predominantly localized on the trunk, arms, head, and neck. Urticarial lesions were associated in 31% of the cases, and mucous membrane involvement was seen in 51%. Histological analyses displayed subepidermal detachment, dermal infiltration of polynuclear neutrophils, alignment of these cells at the basal membrane zone and leukocytoclasis. The direct immunofluorescence was polymorphic, showing linear and/or granular deposits of IgG, IgA, IgM, and/or C3. Anti-type VII collagen antibodies were detected in 69% of cases. Dapsone was efficacious in 90% of cases.

CONCLUSION: BSLE is rather an autoimmune neutrophilic blistering disease associated with SLE than a cutaneous manifestation and may be associated with active extra-cutaneous manifestations of SLE. Dapsone is the first-choice option.

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