Comparison of reactivity and epitope recognition between sera from American and Italian patients with oral pemphigoid

Clin Exp Immunol. 2006 Jul;145(1):28-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2006.03103.x.


Mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) (also known as cicatricial pemphigoid) is a rare autoimmune mucocutaneous blistering disease that affects mucous membranes derived from stratified squamous epithelium and the skin. A subset of MMP affects only the oral cavity and is referred to as the oral pemphigoid (OP). MMP and OP are characterized by subepithelial vesicles on histology and in vivo deposition of immunoglobulins and complement at the basement membrane zone (BMZ) on immunopathology. Previous studies have shown that sera of patients with MMP bind to human integrin beta4, while sera of patients with oral pemphigoid bind to the integrin alpha6 component of the heterodimer. The prognosis in MMP is grave but excellent in OP. In this study we compare the binding of sera from patients with OP from Boston, MA, USA to Naples, Italy, and attempt to identify an epitope to which the anti-integrin alpha6 human autoantibody binds. Our results indicate that the sera from Boston and Naples are identical in their reactivity. They recognize a fragment I (AA 23-462) and its subfragment IB (AA 217-462) only, in the human integrin alpha6 molecule. Blocking studies, immunoprecipitation and immunoabsorbtion studies confirm the presence of this single 245 AA region. Antibodies to subfragment IB cause BMZ separation in organ culture using normal human oral mucosa as substrate. This preliminary study indicates that patients on both continents may have similar reactivity and suggests that an intercontinental study group could be established to advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of OP and the biology of anti-alpha6 integrin autoantibodies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / blood*
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epitopes / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / immunology
  • Integrin alpha6 / immunology
  • Italy
  • Mouth Diseases / immunology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Pemphigoid, Bullous / immunology*
  • Rabbits
  • United States


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments
  • Integrin alpha6