Background: Epidermolysis bullosa simplex generalized severe (EBS-gen sev) is a genetic disorder caused by mutation in the KRT5 or KRT14 genes. Although it is usually considered a mechanical disease, recent data argue for additional inflammatory mechanisms.
Objectives: To assess the inflammation in the skin of patients with EBS-gen sev.
Methods: A first immunohistochemical retrospective study was performed on frozen skin samples from 17 patients with EBS-gen sev. A second multicentre prospective study was conducted on 10 patients with severe EBS-gen sev. Blister fluid and epidermis were processed for immunochemical analysis and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Cytokine expression was analysed in blister fluid and compared with that in controls.
Results: Histological analysis showed a constant dermal perivascular CD4+ lymphocyte infiltrate in skin biopsies of both blister (n = 17) and rubbed skin (n = 5), an epidermal infiltration of neutrophils and eosinophils in 70% of cases, and increased immunostaining for CXCL9 and CXCL10 in blistering skin. High levels of T helper 17 cytokines were detected in lesional skin. Three adult patients with EBS-gen sev were treated with apremilast, with a dramatic improvement of skin blistering and good tolerance.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the importance of inflammation in patients with EBS-gen sev and underlines the key role for T helper 17 cells in its pathogenesis. In addition, this study provides promising new therapeutic approaches for this disabling disorder.
© 2018 British Association of Dermatologists.