Bullous Pemphigoid is an autoimmune bullous disorder characterized by production of IgG against an hemidesmosomal antigen (230 kDa, 180 kDa) responsible for blistering of the skin. In the past several mediators have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease such as proteases and collagenases secreted by local inflammatory cells. In order to investigate the role of cytokines in BP, the cytokine pattern was evaluated by an immunohistochemical analysis and by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction procedure in 13 BP patients. Cytokines examined were interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, interferon (IFN)-gamma and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. The T cell inflammatory infiltrate was also characterized by monoclonal antibodies showing CD3+, CD4+ T cells with a perivascular and scattered distribution in lesional skin. IL-4 and IL-5 were detected in a similar distribution to the inflammatory infiltrate. IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA levels were also revealed by RT-PCR. Proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, IL-6 and Th1-like cytokines (IL-2 and INF-gamma) were not detected neither as proteins nor as mRNA. Since IL-4 and IL-5 are important in eosinophil chemoattraction, maturation and functional activity, the presence of IL-4 and IL-5 in BP suggest that these cytokines could be important in the pathogenesis of the disease.
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