A case of dermatitis herpetiformis with IgA endomysial antibodies but negative direct immunofluorescent findings

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 Aug;43(2 Pt 2):329-32. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2000.100543.


A patient with clinical findings of dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), negative direct immunofluorescent (DIF) findings for junctional IgA deposits in 2 biopsy specimens, and positive for IgA endomysial (AEmA) and tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies responded initially to dapsone. After dapsone had to be discontinued because of side effects, a gluten-free diet and supportive therapy controlled the disease; the AEmA and tTG antibodies became negative. Our data on 10 consecutive DH cases examined by DIF and by serum studies for AEmA and antibodies to tTG, point to frequencies of 90% DIF positive and 70% AEmA and tTG positive cases. The use of both DIF and serum tests for AEmA and tTG reveals DH cases not detected by DIF alone that respond to gluten-free diet. Findings on autoantibodies to tTG, an enzyme that metabolizes gliadin, points to a role of tTG in the immunopathology of gluten-sensitive enteropathy and helps to explain the need for a gluten-free diet in the management of DH cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / pathology
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis / diet therapy
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis / immunology
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct*
  • Glutens / administration & dosage
  • Glutens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Transglutaminases / immunology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Glutens
  • Transglutaminases