Identification of TIA-1+ and granzyme B+ cytotoxic T cells in lichen sclerosus et atrophicus

Dermatology. 2001;202(3):198-202. doi: 10.1159/000051636.


Background: The onset and persistence of cutaneous lichen sclerosus et atrophicus (LSA) are linked to the presence of an inflammatory infiltrate of CD3+ T cells that includes CD4+ and CD8+ cells. The functional relevance of the presence of these cells is unknown.

Objective: The study intended to quantify resting and activated cytotoxic T cells in LSA lesions.

Methods: Twenty patients with active LSA were studied. Skin-infiltrating T cells were immunohistologically characterized with antibodies against CD3, CD8, T-cell-restricted intracellular antigen (TIA-1) and granzyme B (GrB). TIA-1 labels cytotoxic granules of resting and activated T cells, whereas GrB designates activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL).

Results: In all cases, numerous T cells were consistently found expressing cytotoxic granules. The results indicated a high number of infiltrating CD8+ TIA+ T cells. Furthermore, a notable number of GrB+ activated CTL associated with hydropic degeneration of the basal cell layer were found within the dermal infiltrate and at the dermoepidermal interface.

Conclusion: This study shows that a high proportion of skin-infiltrating T cells in LSA has a potential cytotoxic function. The results indicate that hydropic degeneration of basal keratinocytes may at least partially be mediated by CTL-dependent mechanisms. Our data also indicate that a cell-mediated immune response may play an important role in the pathogenesis of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • Female
  • Granzymes
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus / immunology
  • Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus / metabolism*
  • Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus / pathology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poly(A)-Binding Proteins
  • Proteins*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / analysis*
  • T-Cell Intracellular Antigen-1
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / chemistry*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / pathology


  • CD3 Complex
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Poly(A)-Binding Proteins
  • Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • T-Cell Intracellular Antigen-1
  • TIA1 protein, human
  • GZMB protein, human
  • Granzymes
  • Serine Endopeptidases