Clinical, pathologic, and immunologic features of pemphigus herpetiformis: a literature review and proposed diagnostic criteria

Lorena M C Costa, Mark A Cappel, James H Keeling
International Journal of Dermatology 2019, 58 (9): 997-1007
Pemphigus herpetiformis (PH), a rare type of pemphigus, is characterized by immunologic findings consistent with pemphigus but with a unique clinical and pathologic presentation. PH was first described as resembling dermatitis herpetiformis clinically, but because of its variable presentation, it can also resemble linear immunoglobulin A bullous dermatosis and bullous pemphigoid. We reviewed reported cases to analyze the most frequent clinical, pathologic, and immunologic characteristics and to propose corresponding diagnostic criteria. Through a comprehensive review of Medline and PubMed databases, 96 publications and 158 cases were identified. After reviewing the reported characteristics of PH, we suggest the following diagnostic criteria: Clinical: 1) pruritic herpetiform intact blisters with/without erosions; and/or 2) pruritic annular or urticarial erythematous plaques with/without erosions; Pathologic: 1) intraepidermal eosinophils or neutrophils, or both; and/or 2) intraepidermal split with/without acantholysis; Immunologic: 1) direct immunofluorescence showing immunoglobulin G with/without C3 intercellular deposits; and/or 2) indirect immunofluorescence showing immunoglobulin G to epithelial cell surface; and/or 3) detection of serum autoantibodies against desmogleins (1,3) or desmocollins (1,2,3), or both. Diagnosis requires one clinical, one pathologic, and one immunologic feature. We also report three new cases diagnosed at our institution to demonstrate the applicability of the suggested criteria.

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