Molecular defects in the mannose binding lectin pathway in dermatological disease: Case report and literature review

Clin Mol Allergy. 2010 Mar 25;8:6. doi: 10.1186/1476-7961-8-6.


Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) and the Mannose-binding lectin-associated serine proteases (MASPs) are an essential aspect of innate immune responses that probably play an important but understudied role in cutaneous function. The MBL-MASP pathway appears to exert its primary role by assisting in the clearance of apoptotic skin cells (thus preventing accumulation and a subsequent autoimmune response) and promoting opsonophagocytosis of invading pathogens, limiting their dissemination. Deficiencies of the pathway have been described and are associated with infectious, autoimmune and vascular complications. However, the role of this pathway in dermatological disease is essentially unexplored. We describe 6 patients presenting with recurrent inflammatory and/or infectious skin conditions who also demonstrated severely low MBL levels. One patient also had a defect in the MASP2 gene. Genotype analysis revealed specific point mutations in the MBL2 promoter in all 6 patients and a variant MASP-2 gene in one patient. Five patients presented recurrent pustular skin infections (cellulitis, folliculitis and cutaneous abscess). A case of Grover's disease and one forme fruste of Behcet's syndrome (orogenital ulcers) were also observed. The patients responded to antimicrobial therapy, although in some, recurrence of infection was the rule. It appears that MBL deficiency may contribute to recurrent skin infections and to certain forms of inflammatory skin disease. The mechanisms may relate to the role of this pathway in innate immunity, removal of apoptotic cells and in immune complexes. Further study of MBL pathway defects in dermatological disease is required.