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Prüssmann, Wiebke; Prüssmann, Jasper; Koga, Hiroshi; Recke, Andreas; Iwata, Hiroaki; Juhl, David; Görg, Siegfried; Henschler, Reinhard; Hashimoto, Takashi; Schmidt, Enno; Zillikens, Detlef; Ibrahim, Saleh M. and Ludwig, Ralf J. (2015): Prevalence of pemphigus and pemphigoid autoantibodies in the general population. In: Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 10:63 [PDF, 2MB]

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Background: Mucocutaneous blistering is characteristic of autoimmune bullous dermatoses (AIBD). Blisters are caused by autoantibodies directed against structural components of the skin. Hence, detection of specific autoantibodies has become a hallmark for AIBD diagnosis. Studies on prevalence of AIBD autoantibodies in healthy individuals yielded contradictory results. Methods: To clarify this, samples from 7063 blood donors were tested for presence of anti-BP180-NC16A, anti-BP230 and anti-Dsg1/3 IgG by indirect immunofluorescence (IF) microscopy using a biochip. Results: Cumulative prevalence of these autoantibodies was 0.9 % (CI: 0.7-1.1 %), with anti-BP180-NC16A IgG being most prevalent. Validation of IF findings using ELISA confirmed presence of autoantibodies in 7/15 (anti-Dsg1), 6/7 (anti-Dsg3), 35/37 (anti-BP180-NC16A) and 2/3 (anti-BP230) cases. Moreover, in 16 samples, anti-BP180-NC16A autoantibody concentrations exceeded the cut-off for the diagnosis of bullous pemphigoid. Interestingly, these anti-BP180-NC16A autoantibodies from healthy individuals formed immune complexes with recombinant antigen and dose-dependently activated neutrophils in vitro. However, fine-epitope mapping within NC16A showed a different binding pattern of anti-BP180-NC16A autoantibodies from healthy individuals compared to bullous pemphigoid patients, while IgG subclasses were identical. Conclusions: Collectively, we here report a low prevalence of AIBD autoantibodies in a large cohort of healthy individuals. Furthermore, functional analysis shows differences between autoantibodies from healthy donors and AIBD patients.

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