The pathogenesis of dermatitis herpetiformis: recent advances.
Over the last two decades a rapid expansion of our knowledge regarding dermatitis herpetiformis has occurred, including the discovery of IgA in the skin, the discovery of an associated gluten-sensitive enteropathy, the noting of an increased prevalence of the human lymphocyte antigens (HLA)-B8 and -DRw3, and the documentation that the skin disease of many dermatitis herpetiformis patients can be controlled by a gluten-free diet. It has also been noted that two distinct forms of dermatitis herpetiformis occur, those with granular deposits of IgA at the dermoepidermal junction (85%-95% of dermatitis herpetiformis patients) and those with linear IgA deposits (10%-15% of dermatitis herpetiformis patients). These findings are reviewed with particular emphasis on the form of dermatitis herpetiformis associated with granular IgA deposits. The current findings regarding the nature and origin of the cutaneous IgA deposits, the role of the gluten-sensitive enteropathy, and the spectrum of both the immunologic and the nonimmunologic abnormalities associated with dermatitis herpetiformis are presented, and from these data pathophysiologic mechanisms are proposed that may be involved in dermatitis herpetiformis.
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