Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of autoantibodies against 2 hemidesmosomal proteins typically found in patients with bullous pemphigoid (BP), BP antigen II (BP180) and BP antigen I (BP230), in persons without BP.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Academic medical center. Patients An age- and sex-stratified, random, population-based sample of local county patients seen during 2007: 20 men and 20 women per decade of age (from age 20 to 89 years) and 57 patients (33 women and 24 men) aged 90 to 99 years. Intervention Stored serum samples were retrieved for analysis by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and indirect immunofluorescence.
Main outcome measure: Presence of circulating autoantibodies to BP180 and BP230.
Results: Of the 337 study patients, 25 (7.4%) were positive for 1 or both autoantibodies; these 25 samples all tested negative with indirect immunofluorescence. Autoantibody levels did not vary by age or sex.
Conclusions: Bullous pemphigoid has a higher incidence in the elderly population, but the prevalence of antibodies to BP180 and BP230 did not increase significantly with age or vary by sex in this population-based sample. Other exogenous factors may affect the development of these autoantibodies in a population without clinically evident immunobullous disease, including limitations inherent to the test (false-positive rate).